Trends for Digital Accessibility in 2021

In 2020, our lives were more online than ever before. With a massive wave that transitioned in-person activities to purely digital engagement, we shifted to working from home, using food delivery services rather than eating in restaurants, celebrating special occasions over Zoom, and even ordering groceries online. 

With people spending more time on websites than in any previous era, digital accessibility has become more critical than ever. As we move forward in the new year, it seems our whole lives are online. What does that mean for people who use the internet differently? Below, we discuss the trends and data we saw in the world of digital accessibility during 2020 and what that will mean moving forward.

The Importance of Digital Accessibility is on the Rise

Think about all the things in your life that would be difficult or impossible if you suddenly lost consistent internet access. For most of us, working would be rendered, well, unworkable. Beyond that, you might rely on the internet to conduct your banking from the comfort of your own home, pay your bills, manage your retirement account, renew your car insurance, and order food and supplies. Being without the myriad of services the internet provides easy access to is a terrifying thought. Increasingly, many believe that access to the internet is such a fundamental tool that it should be considered a human right. 

Our lives revolve around what we do online – and that’s why the internet should be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. If websites and apps are not accessible, we are failing to provide basic services to those with disabilities, including access to online learning materials, healthcare, banking services, and much more.

This alone ought to be enough to make the business case for accessibility. Another driver, though, is the increasing need to remain in legal compliance. With over 265,000 demand letters sent and 2,058 website accessibility lawsuits filed in 2020, it’s becoming more and more crucial for businesses to achieve accessibility to protect themselves from legal action.

Industry Trends in Digital Accessibility

Perhaps the most notable development in accessibility during 2020 was the release of a new public draft for the newest set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.2. The new draft added a number of criteria for meeting accessibility requirements. You can read more about these standards here.

Overall, the industry and community of technology professionals are moving toward accessibility as a pillar of business. According to the 2020 State of Digital Accessibility report from Level Access (you can download a copy here), a plurality of accessibility programs within companies are now 2-3 years old. The report goes on to explain that most companies have a relationship with a digital accessibility vendor and that inclusion and anticipation of legislative evolution are top drivers for increased accessibility efforts. In the future, the report suggests that we will see increased interest in training and certification related to digital accessibility and new forms of product testing.

If you’re not on the digital accessibility train yet, it’s time to get on board! Contact us today to learn about getting a free accessibility audit for your website. Interested in learning more about digital accessibility? You can read past posts on the subject here and here.

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Chantelle Gossner

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