The Importance of Digital Accessibility
People unequivocally see the IT sector as both a blessing and a headache. Being able to access the diverse services and content on the internet is more convenient than ever. Think about all of the news, videos, information, research, and entertainment you find online every single day. With a flip of your finger, you can scroll through endless articles, stories, and clips. With a simple click of the mouse, you can find information on almost any topic. Easy, right?
But what about people who are not able to access content in the same way because of a disability? Physical, visual, or auditory disabilities can make the online world more difficult to travel. Being able to reach everyone is why Digital Accessibility is so important. Digital accessibility is the ability for anyone, disabled or not, to access online content easily and without disruption. It provides this opportunity for all audiences without any form of discrimination.
What role does digital accessibility play in Business?
Digital accessibility has to be very inclusive in today’s business world. It provides businesses with several advantages: brand building, promoting sustainable development, improving SEO, and showing you value all customers equally. Disabled people are part of the society we all live in; therefore, it is salient that they are able to access the facilities and content on the internet like anyone else. Improving website digital accessibility makes it possible for businesses to open up their content for anyone everywhere in the world.
What are a few misconceptions about web accessibility?
We live in a remarkably diverse world and the concept and use of the web is different for each person. The phrase Web accessibility is a newer concept, which can create several misconceptions when people hear it. These misconceptions about web accessibility include:
- Making a site digitally accessible is expensive and time consuming:
One of the biggest misconceptions about digital accessibility is that it is considered expensive and time consuming to develop. This is because creating a website takes a lot of time, planning, and design. The site might have some ambiguity to it – paths to follow that aren’t direct or require specific actions. To limit or remove constraints while creating an accessible website can cost more, but if the procedures are followed efficiently and carefully, building an accessible website is more effective in the long run. Following the right steps enables you to build a flexible, user-friendly site that invites views and participation to a broader audience.
- All that work and it’s only accessible to a small part of the population:
One of the reasons for this misconception is false assumptions. Of the 7.7 billion people in the world, about 1 billion are living with some form of disability. Additionally, not everyone has 5G connections. One third of the population has limited or slow service. Many businesses feel that these people would not be accessing their site or digital content. This attitude can create lethargy among developers who do not want to look for innovative ideas to create universally accessible websites. That mindset is limiting your own potential.
- Digital Accessibility is optional:
It’s not a choice, it’s a mandate that is required by law. The Equality Act 2010, which came into force in October 2010, states that one is not allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities and are not allowed to prevent access of both goods and services to people with disabilities. This is not just brick and mortar locations; it applies to digital goods and services as well. Businesses that service the public in any fashion must have their online presence digitally accessible.
- Meeting this mandate makes everything boring:
Truthfully, much of the digital content on the internet is not that interesting. But everyone has their own perspectives when it comes to judging what’s on the web. The key is to create a site that is Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust so that even people using the site with voice commands, touch pens or wands, or other assisted devices, can find their way around. The site can be used physically by clicking, touching, swiping, and rolling. That’s not boring – that’s a challenge.
What are a few steps you can use to build an accessibility strategy?
The first step in creating a Digitally Accessible platform for your business is to have an overall Accessibility Strategy, in which your online presence is only a part. A few of the most common steps to build an accessibility strategy are:
- Use technology to help technology:
Checker tools (free versions can be found online) are important to your website’s health. In order to develop and maintain an accessible website, it needs to run smoothly while people are trying to access embedded hyperlinks. These tests can help discover weak points that can be adjusted to improve speed and clarity.
- Team test the site for accessibility issues:
Getting an internal review before making a website available to the public is the best way of testing and building accessibility. It also supplies valuable insight and information from and to your team. Before launching any website to the public, it is important to present it to the internal audience. They could provide insightful feedback to improve the website accessibility.
- Validate and Optimize:
Don’t just go with your assumptions, take a step back and get additional reviews and input. Conducting field studies with users, especially with disabled users, can help a developer make changes that are needed for a better user experience.
The biggest advantage to all this is that your business, if it is digitally accessible, will reach a greater audience. And it’s an audience that appreciates the extra effort you have gone through to be helpful to them.