Tim Berners-Lee designed the world wide web on the simple and yet profound principle – that anyone should be able to share information with another person anywhere.
But this goal, simple as it sounds, is seldom attained.
How can a person with hearing, vision, motor or cognitive disability navigate the web without giving it a second thought? How can we help a senior citizen who is intimidated by technology, access his or her bank services through the mobile? Most web applications tend to exclude these users, unintentionally.
Around 19 percent of the population cannot access your website. Accessibility is now required by law in many cases due to the ADA and Section 508. Federal websites and educational institutions have made their websites and applications accessible and many organizations are now heading towards compliance. The World Wide Web Consortium, founded by Berners-Lee has codified the standards for accessibility in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Overview or WACG.20.
When Exclusion Is Unintentional
The ideal application is the one that works intuitively because it sees the user at its center. We see a website, we can easily scroll through or click on it, we hear the audio, so we can do it effortlessly.
People with disabilities face obstacles in using digital devices and accessing the internet because they are invisible to the design. Unintentionally, they are excluded by barriers.
Universal design sees everyone and values their differences. When we design in a way that includes people with diverse abilities, we create something that is not merely functional, but intuitive, and at its core, empathetic.
Accessibility Is The New Normal
Technology is not about code or products. Technology is about us. And we are diverse. Technology must reflect our needs.
“I think it really hit me when I realized, hey, why are we leaving out ten to twenty percent of the population, says Nitika Sharma, our resident accessibility wiz. “Why do things half way? We are writing tons of code anyway, and by simply putting in a little more effort to think about how a person with a screen reader might use the site, and working that into our process, we can push open the doors a little wider. “
Should you do it
Solving the problems for people with disabilities results in benefits for everyone, including senior citizens, new users, people with low literacy or fluency, users of older technology and all mobile users. People can be intimidated by unfamiliar technology. Weaving accessibility in can make your organization’s website and application a friendlier touchpoint.
Accessibility is a journey
Most designers and developers think of accessibility as not just a goal, but a road to commitment.
“Accessibility is not yet a hundred percent today,” Nitika says. “That means, even if your site is WACG.20 compatible, your content may not be easily understood by people using accessible technology, and then again, it may not work for everyone with a disability, because it is an evolving process. But it is what we aspire to do and we are on this journey together. “
The web has the power to revolutionize the lives of people with temporary and permanent disabilities by giving them access to information, services, education, commerce and much more. When we pledge to make the web more inclusive, we can ensure it reaches its maximum potential. We are really talking about ways in which we can transform society. As we break down obstructions, byte by byte, we empower individuals.