Build A Comprehensive Platform Accessibility Strategy

Tarveen Kaur October 12, 2020
Businesses that will thrive in the futuristic economy need to adapt to rapid environmental changes. It is time to bring on board new technologies to incorporate accessibility in web interfaces and present it to digital users. “Accessibility is not a feature, is a social trend” – Antonio Santos, a social influencer on digital transformation and inclusion. According to Wikipedia, “ Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities.” With a paradigm shift towards digital mediums, product engineers need to keep accessibility a top priority while designing new-age platforms and mobile applications. Attention to accessibility is a must-have criterion for the platform development team. Regular accessibility  audits should be performed during the agile phases and immediate remediation measures should be taken to fix issues that may hamper accessibility. The more accessible your platforms and mobile applications, the more loyal will be your pool of digital readers!  It is important to create a blueprint to engineer accessibility into all stages of the product design process. Quality engineers, product managers, front-end developers, and mobile developers need to evaluate the design framework to provide an inclusive user experience. Accessibility is not a component that is added one-time to your platform. Drive user accessibility for local communities and government agencies by aligning your company vision to match inclusive design components. Top leaders need to incorporate accessibility in the long-term strategic plan and identify key drivers to achieve structured platform engineering. Here are some aspects to keep in mind while developing a 360-degree platform accessibility strategy:  
  • Accessibility at The Early Design Stage: It is important to devise a platform accessibility strategy at an early stage. Organizations need to ensure that the applications deployed on their platforms do not lack elements that provide specific support to the disabled population. Think ahead and plan your webpage in a manner that is future-ready! This will prevent the need for remedial action or platform accessibility audits, later on, that may increase costs significantly. Failure to implement accessible platform design may lead to loss of target audiences, lesser revenue, and inconsistent branding.
  • Understand the Accessibility Laws: While chalking out a platform accessibility strategy, it is important for organizations to first be aware of the various global laws and standards to conform to norms. It is vital to follow universal guidelines such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA), EN 301549, and Section 508. Following these legal guidelines will not help you stay on the right side of the law and extend audience reach by creating inclusive user experiences. Web developers should research well and adhere to industry-specific mandates to achieve the desired outcomes while developing an application or online resource. 
  • Identify Accessibility Champions: Get your team on board! To move your platform accessibility agenda forward, it is crucial to gain top leadership buy-in. Communicate your long-term goals and vision with web developers, product engineers, sales team, and marketers. Have a committed group of accessibility champions and sponsors that develop clear strategies and make tangible progress towards objectives. Encourage knowledge sharing to create truly accessible digital products. Frequent brainstorming sessions can help identify key action areas and facilitate the best technology utilization to incorporate accessibility in mobile apps and web interfaces.
  • Support and Training: Organizations need to keep accessibility testing and training a top priority. Periodic checks should be conducted to fix bugs, detect accessibility issues, and build quality assurance. Product engineers, testers, and web designers need to be trained in the latest accessibility technologies. At the same time, it is also important to gain real-time user feedback by asking disabled audiences to test websites and mobile applications. This helps in making the right changes at the development level and avoids mounting costs at later stages. Product engineers, testers, and web designers need to be trained in the latest accessibility technologies. At the same time, it is also important to gain real-time user feedback by asking disabled audiences to test websites and mobile applications. This helps in making the right changes at the development level and avoids mounting costs at later stages.
  • Focus on Providing an Accessible User Experience: User delight is what you need to aim for in the long run! Product designers and developers need to work out a system that ensures that target audiences with all kinds of physical and cognitive disabilities can successfully interact with the final platform.  The idea should be to build accessibility to the interface, content, code, and application framework. This will result in a top-notch user experience that is enjoyable and navigable for all sections of society.
The expansion of the world wide web is a phenomenon that has brought several accessibility challenges to the forefront. Organizations  need to work on generic frameworks that address accessibility concerns starting from the product conceptualization and design phase. Your platform accessibility strategy should focus on universal standards, rather than specific interfaces or applications for different disabilities. Embed the right content semantics to develop accessible digital online resources that do not exclude anyone. An inclusive world can open doors for all sections of the global society. Work on designing a perfect accessibility strategy and follow the best practices to make it happen in reality!  

Tarveen Kaur

Accessibility Practice Lead at Magic EdTech, Tarveen is actively engaged in building new class digital accessibility solutions for education.