Accessibility isn’t just for people with disabilities, the same as subtitles aren’t just for deaf people. If an idea works it will be used by those that need it, regardless of ability. With this in mind Microsoft recently showed a program that can identify the people in a meeting, transcribe what they've said and even pick out potential tasks from the conversation. Although this is obviously helpful for someone unable to type or write it would also be valuable for someone unable to attend the meeting who needs to know what was said. From a UX perspective, web accessibility can benefit everybody. But how to implement it?
What is Web Accessibility?
To put it simply, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. It ensures that your website or mobile app can be accessed by everyone, without excluding people with visual, motor, cognitive and hearing impairments, making it open to all.
As interactions with technology depends on what we can see and touch, hear and say, learn and remember; it is highly relevant that we take into consideration the over 10 million people with disabilities in Britain alone. We need to work towards breaking down social barriers of those with disabilities through meaningful digital experiences that can enable all the different capabilities that people have.
The case for Accessibility for Everyone
Creating an accessible digital experience isn’t just about people with disabilities but designing with them in mind can highly improve the usability of all users that have or will experience some form of disability, either permanently, temporary or situational.
To be accessible it’s not a case of one size fits all but rather, learning why that size doesn’t fit and providing a variety of different ones so people can choose accordingly and adapt for the present and for the future.
Adaptation is the core of being human and as time changes, so does our global population. More than 10% of the population is aged over 60 and according to Accenture’s report it’s expected that by 2050 it will increase to over 20%. In other words, by 2050 there will be around 2 billion people in the world that are over 60 years old. 2 billion people that can’t be ignored as the aging population is more and more engaged with new technologies. Like that amazing recipe your granny sent you through Whatsapp from her new iPad.
But also, important to note, not providing the basics for an accessible platform means you could find yourself in trouble with the law. (See the Equality Act 2010)
Learning how people interact with the world around them from their perspective makes us better and more empathetic individuals, better professionals at scaling our work and solutions to more people in new ways and maximizing businesses target audience and increased sales. So the question is are you ready to incorporate accessibility in your company and designs?
There are many resources out there from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which is the international standard for accessible websites to Usability.gov where you can find comprehensive content regarding the subject.
But we have listed a couple of key things to look for:
A deeper assessment is needed to evaluate accessibility properly, you can find more guidance from WCAG. Those are not definitive checks and a web page that may pass many accessibility checks can still have accessibility barriers, but acknowledging the need for accessibility thinking and its benefits is a start.