5 Minutes
   //   Feb 13, 2021

Digital Accessibility Benefits Everyone

Priyanka Jeph

As the integration between online and physical grows, digital products are set to transform how everyone from boomers to Gen Z turns into digital natives, connect, shop, work, and play. This has resulted in physical points of sale diminish in many regions. Digital and experiential business strategies are now imperative for brands. People have accepted digital mediums as a way of life and have moved years forward in digital adoption for business. Amazon doubled its profit during a pandemic while the other grocery/online stores have shifted online, banks have transitioned and extended their digital outreach, schools and institutions have taken 100 percent turn towards online learning and digital classrooms, hospitals have aided digital services and business owners are actively developing and executing plans to increase their digital visibility and increase profits and build a more anchored future.

As no one remains untouched by the world growing digitally, brands that care about their users and add that value to the business for the benefit of their users are more likely to survive inclusively. The value doesn't necessarily mean cost and time, in the digital world it is about accessibility when we focus on how experiences can transform brands and change the lives of the users. Digital accessibility benefits everyone. Engaging and empowering people with disabilities has become more important than ever. Accessibility can address true users' needs, forge stronger ties, and is an untapped opportunity for businesses to innovate with web products and services. This blog focuses on digital accessibility shifts, why brands should innovate and reposition themselves with accessibility experiences (AX).

About Accessibility

Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application or any electronic document to be easily perceived, understood, navigated by a wide range of users, including users with disabilities. Accessible websites and apps benefit everyone, as examples for those using their mobile devices while driving, during slow network connections, parents of kids who are using an app for the first time to attend classes, and people who have newly moved to e-commerce websites for their basic shopping needs. Accessibility benefits everyone.

Most businesses are accelerating their shifts toward digital-first models. 

Why Do We Need Accessibility?

  1. According to The World Bank, over 1.3 billion people – 15% of the world's population – live with some form of disability. It is estimated that disabled people and their families control $8trillion in disposable income globally. This presents a huge untapped opportunity for businesses to innovate with their products and services.
  2. According to UsableNet, the newest data on digital accessibility lawsuits shows that web accessibility offers an opportunity to grow your revenue while providing significant value to brands. 
  3. The same data shows that in 2020, web, app, and video accessibility cases are up almost 25% year-on-year. December saw an almost 100% rise over January. Total digital accessibility lawsuits in 2020 exceeded 3,500. When you combine federal and state ADA lawsuits, the trend is moving upward.
  4. Accessibility lawsuits rose again in 2020, more than 20% compared to 2019.
    An image showing data of lawsuits filed for web accessibility. Total digital accessibility lawsuits in 2020 exceeded 3,500.
    Image Source - UsableNet

     

  5. According to WebAIM, a staggering 98.1% of homepages from 1m popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards in 2020. Some of the inaccessible UX designs include cluttered layouts, poor color contrast, and missing text alternatives for images.
  6. As per centers for disease control and prevention people with disabilities make up around 26% of adults in USA. That's a quarter of the population.
  7. According to UK-based disability charity Purple, 75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to finish a purchase due to their disability.
  8. 2019 survey revealed that 69% of disabled online consumers will click away from websites that they find difficult to use, while 86% have chosen to pay more for a product from an accessible website.

Brands That Care About Their Users

To reach a fuller spectrum of inclusivity, some brands are making sure that people with disabilities and everyone who needs accessible web features at some point  are included in the process of research and product development from the very beginning.

  1. Teach Access, is an initiative that addresses the accessibility skills gap by offering more learning opportunities for students to design and develop products with the needs of disabled people in mind.
  2. Google Lookout uses computer vision to help blind users identify food labels and scan documents.
  3. Updated in 2020, Apple's latest version of iOS also added smart features catering to people with hearing and vision impairments.
  4. Fable, created an online platform that connects researchers, designers, and developers with people with disabilities.
  5. In 2019, Microsoft rolled out Immersive Reader for VR, which is designed to help people with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or visual impairments to focus while reading.
  6. WalkinVR is a new software program that makes VR games more accessible for the disabled.
  7. Tesco redesigned its grocery app with accessibility baked in from the beginning.
  8. New tools such as Cards for Humanity aim to help people design more inclusively, in this case with an online card game.
A screenshot of a card game based website specially designed with accessible features
Cards For Humanity

In Conclusion

The pandemic has put into perspective the fragility of experiences, the importance of communication, and the need for a more holistic relationship between people and digital. Living in an era of infodemic lately, we have seen positive and negative impacts of digital products. We have seen shutdowns causing human connections to change touch base.

At the dawn of a digital economy, accessibility experience (AX) can enhance the user journey and thoughtfully designed websites and apps with empowering solutions pave the way for a more inclusive world.

AX helps to translate a brand as empathetic and caring for their users, creating more connections and helping more users get their work done online easily. It helps to build a brand image by creating a digital environment that truly resonates with people. Accessibility is the differentiator that we need for the future. Accessibility should not be an afterthought and businesses that strive to integrate accessibility while reacting quickly to the people's needs in a time of crisis are the ones that thrive. 

Hopefully, the purpose is clear that we need accessible digital experiences created with a mission and vision to create inclusive designs and to establish brands that are fair, honest, ethical, human, creative, and sustainable. It's not complicated, it's simple. It's not a constraint, digital accessibility is the aesthetic we need, it's a design element that makes a digital experience beautiful.