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Why is Digital Accessibility Necessary?

  • Published on: May 2, 2024
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  • Updated on: May 20, 2024
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  • Reading Time: 7 mins
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When we say “accessible to all”, it goes beyond just people with different disabilities. As the famous saying by Sir Tim Breners-Lee goes, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect”, digital accessibility can also include those who are struggling with their health conditions, who are experiencing temporary impairments or those who are facing age-related limitations as they grow older. It can also possibly refer to situational limitations like unstable internet connection, typical in certain areas, or even contextual constraints because of excessive screen time. All these problems would require accessible solutions.

98% of U.S-based webpages lack digital accessibility for people, specifically those with disabilities. WHO estimates that over 1.3 billion people, which is about 15% of the world’s population, have some or other disabilities. To promote an inclusive society, digital accessibility is of utmost importance.

Digital accessibility is important to enable individuals with disabilities to carry out basic tasks online autonomously. This includes designing, developing, and maintaining digital platforms like websites, software, and apps. Digital accessibility is a legal requirement in many countries with laws and regulations mandating accessibility in digital platforms and preventing discrimination against people with disabilities.

These laws include the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), focusing on preventing discrimination against people with disability, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) focusing on creating accessibility guidelines for websites, apps, and software, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act focuses on prohibiting discrimination of individuals with disabilities for receiving federal government assistance. Along with that, there are social and ethical imperatives to be kept in consideration when discussing accessibility.

A diverse group of people sit around a table, engaged in a discussion about accessibility.

 

Social and Ethical Imperatives of Digital Accessibility

The social and ethical imperatives of digital accessibility are at the core of the principles of inclusivity justice and equal opportunity, for all, regardless of their ability. This refers to:

  • Equal access to information and opportunities by breaking down barriers and empowering these individuals to participate in different online communities, access educational resources, find employment opportunities, and engage in various online activities.
  • Digital accessibility is also deeply intertwined with upholding human rights and dignity by providing digital platforms that are accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability, and promote non-discrimination, equality, and participation as basic human rights. It promotes dignity by allowing individuals to participate in society on an equal footing with others.
  • Ensuring digital accessibility encompasses all individuals and is all about fostering inclusivity and creating a landscape that resonates with every user. This refers to acknowledging various situations such as navigating noisy environments, dimly lit spaces, or dealing with glare and sunlight by addressing these challenges through accessibility design principles.
  • Digital accessibility also plays an important role in empowering marginalized groups. This includes individuals from low-income groups, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and minority communities, ensuring digital accessibility for all these groups.

 

Impact of Digital Accessibility on the Economy and Business

Accessibility is crucial in many aspects. Although many organizations are embracing new technologies and techniques to improve various aspects of their business, they often neglect accessibility either due to a lack of awareness or difficulties in execution. What these organizations fail to realize and understand, is the interconnectedness of accessibility that benefits businesses and the economic factors.

1. Increase in Revenue Generation

When websites are accessible, it boosts traffic, expands market reach, and improve SEO. This enables businesses to serve millions of potential customers with disabilities, driving sales and growth. Prioritizing accessibility attracts customers who value social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Additionally, it also ensures compliance with accessibility standards, saving costs.

2. Consumer Engagement and Loyalty

Digital Accessibility promotes inclusivity. Hence, it allows customers to engage with a brand’s digital content effectively, increasing customer satisfaction. Features such as clear and consistent navigation structures, resizable text, and compatibility with assistive technologies, can benefit customers by making websites easier to navigate and read, ultimately making a site more accessible. This promotes customer loyalty since they feel heard and see your website as a trusted and reliable source of information.

3. Mitigating Legal Risks and Avoiding Legal Mitigation

Ensuring digital accessibility is not only a moral obligation, it’s a legal mandate as per the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. By guaranteeing compliance with these laws and digital accessibility standards, organizations can mitigate legal risk, and avoid financial and reputational costs associated with legal actions.

4. Efficiency and Convenience to All Users

Every user can experience the ease of navigating a website through accessibility.  When websites and apps are designed with accessibility features, like alternative text for images and clear navigation, users can interact and engage more efficiently, saving time and effort. This not just benefits those with disabilities, but also users who prefer different ways of engaging with technology, making it easier for an organization to stand out in the market.

A group of people huddle around a man perched on a table, their attention focused on the accessibility features displayed on his laptop.

 

Strategies for Achieving Digital Accessibility

Incorporating Accessibility into the Project Communication & Marketing

Not only is accessibility a technical need but also a crucial aspect of the user experience that affects the overall performance and even customer experience. When considering accessibility in marketing, it encompasses the requirements of all users including elderly users, users with visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor impairments, and even those from rural or developing countries. Incorporating accessibility into project and marketing communications also involves using the right terminology and moving the focus from a technical checklist to a more inclusive and customer-centric approach.

Maintain Up-To-Date Digital Accessibility and Standards

Staying informed about the latest accessibility best practices and legal requirements helps to create a more inclusive and accessible digital experience, catering to the diverse needs of the customers. This includes research, and incorporating accessibility standards to ensure all assets and communication channels are accessible to all. Additionally, it helps an organization stay compliant with legal requirements and avoid potential legal risks.

Upskill and Re-Skill The Existing Workforce

Training the existing workforce is crucial to ensure the employees understand the vitality of digital accessibility and are well-equipped to create accessible products. This is achieved through proper training programs, workshops, and courses that focus on accessibility standards. By investing in professional development, organizations can create a more inclusive workforce, committed to creating products that cater to the diverse needs of users, and also fosters a culture of continuous learning.

Co-design with the customer, for the customer

Customers can sometimes help organizations level up their business. Involving customers with disabilities in the design process helps organizations gain valuable insights into their needs and preferences and create products catering to that. This approach fosters a user-centered design process by actively seeking feedback and input from customers, making the product truly accessible and usable by everyone.

 

Success Stories of Companies That Have Successfully Prioritized Accessibility

Accenture

Accenture implemented an IT accessibility program aiming to ensure 100% compliance with global accessibility standards including all technologies. Accenture understands the need to improve accessibility for everyone addressing language barriers, cultural diversity, and various disabilities. According to them, accessibility is a standard feature and not an exception.

Boeing

Boeing, a leading aerospace company, prioritizes accessibility for its customers with disabilities. They collaborate with ethnographic firms to gain insight into passenger experiences, include accessible elements in aircraft design, and employ a senior engineer dedicated to accessibility design. The organization is dedicated to providing equal opportunities and accommodation to all its employees, including those with disabilities.

Gartner

At Gartner, employees need to understand how corporate decisions affect effectiveness, efficiency, and impact. One decision they emphasize, which even clients are not allowed to overlook, is ensuring accessibility for disabled people. As per their research, a lot of companies don’t follow the best practices when it comes to hiring and supporting people with disabilities, resulting in a missed opportunity to tap into a valuable talent pool.

Digital accessibility is a necessity and must not be overlooked at any cost, not just for compliance but for fostering inclusivity, driving engagement, and mitigating legal risks. Organizations that invest and embrace accessibility empower their employees, improve consumer satisfaction, and open up new growth prospects. Magic EdTech is committed to accessibility, evident in our wide range of products and services provided. We offer immersive learning experiences, that cater specifically to the requirements of our customers. If you’re eager to learn more about our offerings, visit our website.

 

FAQs

Digital accessibility ensures that websites, software, and apps are usable by all individuals, regardless of disabilities, health conditions, or situational limitations. It promotes inclusivity and equal access to information, services, and opportunities online.

Common barriers to digital accessibility include inaccessible web design, lack of alternative text for images, poor navigation structures, and insufficient compatibility with assistive technologies. These barriers can prevent individuals with disabilities from fully accessing and using digital platforms.

Organizations can ensure digital accessibility by following standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), conducting regular accessibility audits, involving users with disabilities in testing, and providing ongoing training for employees. Prioritizing accessibility in design and development processes is key to creating inclusive digital experiences.

Legal requirements regarding digital accessibility vary by country, but common regulations include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States and the Web Accessibility Directive in the European Union. These laws mandate that digital platforms must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, and non-compliance can result in legal action.

Digital accessibility benefits individuals with disabilities by providing equal access to information, services, and opportunities online. It promotes independence, inclusion, and participation in various aspects of life, from education and employment to social interaction and civic engagement.

Examples of accessible design features include clear and consistent navigation, resizable text, captions for videos, descriptive alt text for images, and compatibility with screen readers. These features ensure that digital content is perceivable, operable, and understandable by individuals with disabilities.

Organizations can incorporate accessibility into their marketing efforts by using inclusive language, providing accessible formats for content, and ensuring that marketing materials are compatible with assistive technologies. This ensures that marketing messages reach and resonate with all individuals, including those with disabilities.

Strategies for upskilling employees in digital accessibility include offering training programs, workshops, and courses on accessibility best practices and incorporating accessibility considerations into job roles and responsibilities. Ongoing education and awareness-building efforts are essential for creating a culture of accessibility within organizations.

Involving customers with disabilities in the design process can be achieved through user testing sessions, surveys, and focus groups specifically targeting individuals with disabilities. Their feedback and insights can help identify accessibility barriers and inform the development of more inclusive digital solutions.

Success stories or case studies of companies prioritizing accessibility demonstrate the positive impact of accessibility initiatives on customer satisfaction, brand reputation, and business growth. Examples include Accenture, Boeing, and Gartner, as mentioned in the blog content. These companies have implemented accessibility programs and initiatives to improve digital accessibility and create more inclusive experiences for all users.

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