In recent years, discussions about the need for increased digital accessibility have certainly increased. But providing accessibility measures on your website is usually trotted out as a way to avoid lawsuits or as a way to accommodate a small number of people in need. Digital accessibility isn’t charity, and it’s much more than a way to protect yourself from legal concerns.
Think about it this way: at some point in your life, you, the reader, will almost certainly benefit from some kind of accessibility technology.
If You Don’t Need Digital Accessibility Now, Give It Time…
Maybe you think you don’t need websites to be more accessible. Even if that’s the case right now, wait around for 20 years and see. According to research from the Nielsen Norman Group, for every year you age past 25, your ability to use websites declines by about 0.8% per year. While you might be chuckling about helping Mom with basic iPhone use now, you could face similar problems a few years down the road. To avoid this, we all have a responsibility to work on making the Web more accessible.
Often, when we think about accessibility, we frame it only in terms of complete blindness or deafness. However, we need to remember that there are sliding scales of what people need to increase usability. For the 75% of American adults who use some sort of vision correction, the ability to change font sizes or increase color contrast may be more helpful than text-to-speech features.
In general, a much larger proportion of the population benefits from accessibility features than you might assume at first glance. That’s why universal design is so critical.
You probably already use accessibility features!
Even if you don’t realize it, you more than likely rely on accessible design to go about your day. Just like Velcro and Segways have become commonplace after being developed for those with disabilities, there are parallels in the digital sphere. Have you ever used voice to text to draft an email? Ever implemented the cues provided by predictive text, or maybe instructed your phone to read incoming texts aloud to you via Bluetooth? If yes, then you’ve used an accessibility feature.
Universal design is the way of the future. Instead of imagining that you are helping some faceless, nameless person when you implement digital accessibility measures, remember that you are paving the way for your parents, your customers, and your future self to use the Internet with ease. Want to find out more about the basics of web accessibility? Read more here. Interested in an accessibility overhaul for your site? Contact us today.