Digital accessibility & inclusiveness, the new normal?
Lately, life has reshaped the way we live, work, shop and interact. Quarantine and lock-downs are forcing us to adopt a digitally-dependent lifestyle which, for most of us, has been a fairly easy transition. Shopping, groceries and mundane errands can be done in a couple of snaps, easy peasy.
However, imagine what life would be like without access to the digital apps and services you’ve come to count on. No food delivery apps to summon your dinner, no technology to enable a virtual working day, and no social apps to connect you with friends and family.
This is what life could feel like for people with disabilities.
What many people don’t know is that most of the digital world is still inaccessible to too many. The sudden shift to digital life has amplified the disconnect, since most apps and websites aren’t built for people living with vision or mobility impairments. Especially now that many bricks and mortar locations are closed, people with impairments are cut off from a number of essential services. Of course, in a utopian world, inaccessibility lives in the past. In this pandemic called COVID we have learned that organizations have to adapt to a more accessible world and react faster than usual. The new normal!
Equal access to information and services shouldn’t be extra, it should be fundamental, with one out of every 5 individuals having some form of disability. So, hold on, what is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility is the process of making digital products (websites, mobile apps and other digital tools and technologies) accessible to everyone. It is about providing all users access to the same information, regardless of the impairments they may have.
How can you attribute it to the new normal?
It’s not hard, and you’ll make millions of lives better by starting with these simple things you can do to make your business more accessible:
- Native components - Use native components wherever possible. Many accessibility softwares are designed to work with native components by default. On the web, it helps to use basic HTML as much as possible, as they are screen reader accessible. When it comes to apps, using native components like table cells, buttons and forms ensure built-in accessibility.
- Hierarchy - Following a clear hierarchy of pages, sections, titles and headings allows your user to easily navigate through your website or apps.
- Labelling - Assigning labels to your web or app elements allow for easier navigation. So go on and tag your headers as headers, body copy as body, buttons as buttons and, no big surprise here, links as links.
- Font sizing - Think about how your website or app will look when someone is using it with the text size turned up. Keep these allowances in mind while designing.
- ALT text - Whenever posting images, add alternative text (ALT text). Whenever you use videos, add audio descriptions and captions. This will provide information about the image or video for someone with a visual or hearing disability.
- Contrast - Check your contrasts and use color combinations that are accessible to people with colorblindness. There are tools out there that help you understand how a person with colorblindness experiences your website or app.
- Test, test, test - You can test yourself by going through your functions with a screen-reader and by changing contrast and font sizes. However, it's always better to work with a group of testers who are in your target audience who can consistently test and provide feedback before each update.
These are just some simple tips that you could begin with! “In Europe, 10-15% of the population are people with disabilities. That represents approximately 50 – 75 million people in the 27 EU member states. Source: EU Research
With today’s technology, you can easily break down this barrier, Begin now!