One in four Americans has a disability of some kind, whether visual, hearing, cognitive, or physical. Better said, they have a different ability. That is 25% of the American population. A total of 1.3 billion people worldwide has a permanent disability of some kind.
While some forms of disabilities are permanent, others can be situational or temporary. We all have accessibility needs throughout our day. If someone breaks their arm, and only has one hand to text with, how they interact with their smartphone may be similar to those who have loss of limbs [Temporary]. If you are a construction worker watching a video at a noisy site, you may not have the ability to hear as well as you like and have to rely on captions to convey your message [Situational].
Finally, while it is easy to think that this may not apply to the young, and abled body you have to ask yourself the question: how will I experience the world in 10 years? 20 years? Humans age. Simple fact. We decline, we lose our hearing, vision, ability to walk and be nimble, and perhaps the ability to care for ourselves.
How can we create beautiful, empowering, accessible, and inclusive experiences for everyone today? Just like we start every Design Thinking workshop: start by building empathy.
Over 840,000 websites go live every day. 92% of the most popular websites fail to meet the basic standards of accessibility. That means 773,000 websites will go live today that are not accessible.
In today’s world, we use technology for everything. Think about how we shifted to things online for work, Zoom, messages and phone calls with family, Googling random questions, finding the closest restaurant, scheduling appointments, etc. Technology makes things in your life easier.
For people who have disabilities, technology makes their lives possible. From a wheelchair to a voice command tablet, technology helps to create connection and interaction with others.
But think about it, why do you keep going back to the websites that you use? They are easy to use and easy to love. 74% of online customers will switch brands if they have a negative experience. If you cannot access a website, why would you continue to use that brand?
So, put on your lens of empathy. Have you ever used a screen reader or voice over command on your computer? Give it a try. See how you would do all of the things you normally do on a daily basis. Would this make you change the brands and companies that you normally use?
Example of a screen reader being used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEbl5jvLKGQ
Tough, right? Accessibility is not just a considerate thing to do. It is also protected by the law in many countries: ADA, AODA (Canada), EU, RPD (India), and many more.
Now what? You have this lens, what can you see that needs to change? Start building the skills.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – sites need to be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Perceivable – this means all of the information shared on your site should not be hidden and can be read by any device. This means, making sure there is alt-text for images, captions for videos, high color contrast ratios.
Operable – this means the site should be usable by any device, including all assistive technology whether this is a mouse, keyboard, trackpad, touchscreen, and so on. The content should flow, preventing any keyboard traps, and should avoid seizure triggering elements.
Understandable – this means the content on the site should avoid jargon and overly technical language. Repeated language should be consistent overall pages, for example making sure forms, and labels provide clear direction and show errors clearly.
Robust – this means content should be usable with a variety of technologies, regardless of browser and device. Making sure buttons and links have clear content and destinations is key.
Now, I bet you are wondering, while this is nice – how does this apply to my role and SAP? Follow along with this blog series to find out!
In the meantime, enjoy some resources and test out free accessibility tools on your products:
Tools to test web accessibility (Chrome Plug-ins):