How to make dashboards more inclusive

by Flavio Matos

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In this post you are going to see tips to help you make dashboards and data visualizations more inclusive!

When you create a dashboard, you want show the whole world your masterpiece and ensure that everyone can understand the data. This means creating dashboards for all, with accessibility in mind for people with a variety of disabilities, including various vision impairments, learning disabilities, limited movement, or a combination of these.

There are different types of impairments. We should consider some reasons a person might have difficulty interpreting a dashboard.

Colour blindness

There are 11 types of colour blindness. The one that most people forget is some people cannot see colours at all.

There are many tools that help you to check if your visualization is color blind friendly. With Sim Daltonism you can simulate color blind vision and displays the results in real-time in a floating palette.

You also can use ColorBrewer which is an online tool designed to help people select good color schemes for maps and other graphics.

Visual Impairments

Some people might be blind, partially blind or have short sightedness.

You should consider some users might use screen readers to help them understand your visualization. You can create the dashboard with segments of text, in the correct order to make the screen reader use easier. Also you can use large fonts for text to help those with long-sightedness - size minimum 12.

Motor impairment

This could mean they might not be able to interact with a dashboard as they are unable to use a mouse. They might only use the keyboard to access and navigate dashboards.

It's very important to bare in mind that some user will access your visualization by only tabbing and clicking arrows, so they are able to access different parts of the dashboard. Note that the tooltips and other interactivities will not be able to work if the users only operate the keyboard, so you might need to consider that when you're creating your dashboard.

Neurodivergence

This can be the way the individual processes information for someone with dyslexia or dyscalculia or ADHD, etc. It is important to consider these particularities and make dashboards as accessible as possible to all levels of understanding, background, and intelligence. This can come in the form of varying levels of detail or explanation, in order to alienate as few people as possible when viewing your visualization.

Note: It is also important to consider the cultural context behind your dashboard. It could be cultural context as in countries but also as in corporate cultural. The colours used to indicate good/bad, the direction of reading, the layout of the dashboard. For example, red in Coca-Cola Company is seen as a positive colour.


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