While building digital products our teams focus on user-friendly flow, attractive visuals, and performance. Accessibility is overlooked in most of these scenarios and final product suffer from bad usability issues or no usability at all in some case for visually impaired people.
(Source- WHO Stats)
We live in a world where approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of visual impairment, out of these nearly 36 million people are blind and 217 million people are moderate to severe level visually impaired. Having such a huge number of visually impaired people is a big shout for the digital community for inclusiveness. It is not just our responsibility, but we are morally obligated to serve this big community.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility in design allows people with diverse abilities to access, understand and perform the desired action with digital products. Improving the accessibility of product enhances the usability of the interface for people with low vision, blindness, hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, motor impairments, and all other users. It not only improves the usability of products for people with disability but makes a product much easier to use for the rest of all users. People with disabilities use assistive technologies, like screen readers, braille and assistive keyboards for navigating websites and applications.
Accessibility is for Inclusiveness
Often it is mistaken by product teams, design accessibility is only for visually impaired people, that is a half-truth. There are designs with bad usability, they suffer accessibility issues even when used by people with no disability. Imagine a digital interface, where reading is difficult because of low contrast or small type size. Now think how difficult would it be to read the same copy for people with weak eyesight.
Benefits of Mobile & Web Accessibility:
- Improve usability for everyone (Curb cut effect): When we design for accessibility, the end product not only benefit people with disabilities but it often ends up benefitting a much wider audience. It is very similar to the curb cut on roads (Curb cut is a passage between road and sidewalk made for wheelchairs accessibility). Curb cuts are designed for accessibility reasons for disabled people but often end up benefiting everyone. People use it for pushing strollers, heavy bags, even when you are in pain curb cuts are preferred.
- SEO benefits: There are many areas where accessibility and SEO overlap like video transcriptions, image caption, image ALT attribute, use of headings, semantic HTML and much more. In general, if you are working for accessibility by default you end up doing lots of things for SEO.
- Cover wide audience: As mentioned above there are a huge number of people with disabilities if we design for accessibility, products can be used by a large number of audience compared to non-accessible one. This, in turn, can help in increasing the number of users and can also improve the bottom line.
- Inclusion helps in building a reputation: You can stand out from your competition by building accessible products. Accessible products are not only about targeting more people but it’s also about social responsibility. Doing it can help you big time in building public relations.
It is the responsibility of everyone
Building accessible products need a collaborative environment. Every stakeholder has to think in this direction and contribute. A designer needs to make sure about the contrast, typography, design elements, while developers need to make sure the use of semantic HTML. Copywriters have to write meaningful micro-copy which is screen reader friendly.
“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” – Tim Berners-Lee
With the rising population, there’ll be more and more visually impaired and disabled people, who can not use the internet without assistive technologies. Little effort of inclusiveness from product teams can help this big community stand with the rest of the world. At Mobisoft we believe this is no more than just a formality or a stunt for public relations, it has become our moral responsibility to serve everyone and create an environment of inclusiveness.