We all concur that the internet is a magnificent powerful tool, free and accessible to all, or is it? Sometimes, we tend to address, structure or create digital portals, websites and even social platforms on the usual criteria, but we mustn`t forget that not every user is the same.
When considering the world`s population, or better still filter down those countries that have access to the cyber world, are we being mindful of those who are in any way disabled, or individuals who have some type of condition like photosensitive epilepsy to name one?
In this day and age, we ought to be more sensitive and inclusive, as every human should be able to have a decent web access, good utilisation and ideally an overall excellent positive experience. This applies even more if your particular niche or end users are people who endure some kind of aliment, in which case this must be further addressed, amplified and emphasised.
Face the Figures
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 1 in 6 people, or about 4.4 million have some form of disability. Let that sink in, and imagine what`s the number globally.
Therefore, as aforesaid, we must keep inclusivity when creating tech in all its forms, since many of these Australian individuals need to access the digital world also to work, with jobs in education and in the health sector, to name but two areas. It affects their employment and their families.
User-Friendly Design – Where to Start?
Now, that we are more aware about what needs to be done, how do we go about it? Well, according to W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) there are three terms which collaborate in conjunction with each other to assist in creating a platform which potentially works for everyone.
The following need to be addressed and taken in consideration when companies craft their website designs, digital tools and apps. The focus should be on these three pillars:
- Accessibility: It all revolves around which method to use for products that everyone can access, utilise and comprehend barring any biases. The professionally applied design or any products, services and tools developed need to be easily accessible and operated by people with disabilities.
- Inclusion: It`s all in the name, no barrier. Everyone, regardless of their physical, emotive or mental abilities is encompassed, feels accepted and capable to partake in the digital realm, resulting in celebrating diversity and respecting human rights.
- Usability: Tests are carried out to evaluate usability in products, from websites to tools and applications, verifying efficacy, adeptness and user-friendliness. Any issues which could hinder the holistic experience linked to design and performance must be addressed and tackled.
Honing Digital Accessibility – Inclusive Design Tips
Different businesses will probably have various methods or procedures as how to approach design, also depending on their developers.
We list some tips below which any business can adopt to enhance, polish or ensure that their digital creations are accessible to all.
This one may sound straight forward or obvious to many, but it could be taken a bit for granted. We need to make sure that the text being utilised or applied is understood by your niche.
It is imperative that text, be it on a website or a blog, is clear, free from too many emojis, jargon or special characters. Instead, we should be sticking to simpler words rather than complex ones to avoid that disability-assistive tools read it differently or are even hindered resulting in a negative experience for the end user.
Let text be accessible to all and not a barrier to people with cognitive disabilities.
Alt-texts & Captions
Short explanations of images (alt-text) is commonly utilised across the board, even by social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to name few popular ones.
We need to be sensitive and use appropriate alt-text together with captions, allowing persons with disabilities like visual impairments to attain a better understanding of content.
Videos and Subtitles
Captioned and subtitled videos will surely assist people, even non-disabled ones, to watch and understand anything which isn`t in their native language, but it also helps people with hearing difficulties.
On the other hand, videos without captions or transcripts could represent a barrier for people with auditory frailties.
Following a report by 3Play Media, it transpired that captioned videos increased views by 40% versus uncaptioned ones. Thus, organisations and brands should make sure that their content creators are applying these, which ultimately act also as leverage for views, followers or subscribers, which could affect revenue too.
Avoid using too many elements to your design, instead opt for solid high-contrast backgrounds to place your text on for better readability. Same goes for colours and fonts, which must be carefully chosen to leave a good impact once visitors land on your web page.
The first look will leave a perception with the user, so thrive to make it an excellent one.
Automated Accessibility Tool
These optional tools can be utilised to spot and amend any potential accessibility barrier, with some even scanning site`s content ensuring that it is user-friendly and understandable by people with disabilities.
These tools serve also to assist organisations providing recommendations to enhance their websites, tracking compliance and speed issues.
Design process holds many facets, from fonts, buttons, slides, to text and colours. Choosing the right ones helps inclusion.
Implementing time limit formats (although with a rationale behind them) say to compile forms on certain websites, or complicated navigation, could hinder people with physical disabilities.
Trust that this article served as an eye-opener to many, as the way forward must be inclusivity, since the cyber world is ought to be accessible to all.
True, it isn`t always easy to apply inclusive design, that`s why organisations need to hire professional personnel or approach experts in the field to make sure that their final product is inclusive, since it will ultimately also affect their business revenue.