On May 16th 2019 Kin + Carta will be taking part in the 8th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Ben Campbell talks about why it’s such a crucial issue.
Let’s start with the basic facts. In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability that affects their ability to access the web. This could be visual, hearing, motor or cognitive (affecting memory and processing)¹. An estimated 253 million people in the world live with vision impairment: 36 million are blind and 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment.
For those of us in the world of digital, this is a major challenge. If these people can’t access the web then they’re losing a fundamental right to access the news and knowledge the rest of us take for granted. For our clients it means millions of people unable to learn about their products, services or messages.
At Kin + Carta we have a passionate Connective of businesses who take physical and digital accessibility very seriously. Before we begin to design or build any digital experience for our clients, we first start thinking about ways in which people will access and use the service or product.
All users of the web have different needs at different times and in different circumstances. For example, a colour blind user might not be able to read text or headings if the colour contrast isn’t compliant. A physically impaired user using only a keyboard could experience severe pain if they have to navigate through lists of navigation before accessing the content they need.
But the concept of accessibility doesn’t just apply to people with disabilities. It’s about making sure your service can be used by as many people as possible. For example, if you need to watch a video in a loud and disruptive environment you would usually put captions on, a feature originally made for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Everyone can benefit from improvements in accessibility. The original purpose of word prediction software was to help users with physical disabilities increase their typing speed and decrease the number of keystrokes needed to complete a word or a sentence. Now, almost every person who owns a digital device interacts with predictive text. It’s quicker and easier for all.
This makes sense
Since 2016, the number of disabled adults who used the internet in the last three months increased by 5% to 9 million in the UK². In the US that number is 65 million.
Now, imagine you built a website that every single person uses and you purposely deny and ignore these people's needs. How does this help you, your business, and the consumer? It would be absolute madness, not to mention illegal, in most scenarios.
Of course, Web accessibility is also the right thing to do. Every single person should be able to use the internet and it’s our responsibility to make sure they can.
Designing digital experiences that are fully inclusive requires innovation and a new, better standard for design and builds. A standard that has digital accessibility at its core. We’re committed to delivering this.
We’d recommend going to one of your most visited websites and try using it with only a keyboard. You can experience it in an all new light - whether it be good or bad. You could potentially spot issues where accessibility users could get stuck in a loop or worse, not be able to access content or functionality at all. If you can’t reach or access content by an input method it could be deemed as discrimination and breach of the law.
On May 16th go ahead and unplug your mouse, or surf the web with a screen reader for an hour. At Kin + Carta, we’ll be encouraging designers, developers, client services, management and everyone else to experience first-hand the impact of digital accessibility. Join us.
If you would like this article in another accessible format, further accessibility information or learning aids, please don’t hesitate to contact Ben.
1. Making your service accessible, GOV.UK
2. Office for National Statistics, Internet users in the UK: 2017 Bulletin