The World Health Organization November 2021 factsheet estimates that over 15% of the world’s population, which is equivalent to 1 billion people, experience disability. So, why is it that digital accessibility is something that is still viewed as optional by many organizations? Or not a priority?
Surprisingly, the truth is that we use many accessibility features in our daily lives and don’t even realize this. For example, the word prediction feature in phones was originally designed for people with dyslexia. Other options like dark mode as well as pinch and zoom option on the tablets/phones are some of the accessibility features that even the generalized people benefit from daily.
Disability and Accessibility
The reasons for disability aren’t limited to birth or accidents, but also age-related factors. As an individual ages, the brain and nervous system undergo natural changes— the senses are more likely to lose their sharpness, visual acuity, and peripheral vision decline gradually. Apart from this, hearing loss is also possible. This leads to slowed responses and altered experiences.
Hence, the aged individual’s interactions with a utility, a store, or a bank—whether offline or online will be quite different from before. Such interactions have always been a challenge for people with different abilities. For instance, it is like you have to use a computer, but without a screen, mouse, or audio—this is the kind of challenge differently-abled people face in accessing computer-based applications. ADA compliance services, therefore help in bridging such digital gaps and deliver a seamless experience to everyone alike.
The whole concept becomes a little easy to understand when we think of digital accessibility differently. And when talking about the need for more accessible digital experiences, three critical motivators that business leaders must keep in mind are:
People with different abilities also deserve to inhabit the same reality as others. Many amazing technologies have been developed that help people to create, communicate, and work despite their restricted hearing, speech, sight, and mobility. Likewise, having an ADA compliant PDF, website, or app that bridges the digital gap for disabled people is, quite simply, an ethical no-brainer.
One of the critical factors that compel many companies toward addressing digital accessibility are changes in regulations and mandates—and that’s quite fine if businesses look forward to embracing and including accessible designs. Besides, building a bigger market share requires businesses to be accessible to one and all, including people with special needs.
Being on the wrong side of (WCAG) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, ADA compliance, or other regulations will limit you from doing business in an increasing number of places. So, if the idea of cultural inclusivity and diversity doesn’t motivate you, but legal compliance does, then digital accessibility is again a no-brainer!
A Competitive Advantage
Though a document or a website might technically be WCAG conformant, it can still deliver a frustrating and disjointed user experience. Instead, the ability to “speak cerebral palsy” or “speak blindness” gives one a vastly more sophisticated and more multivalent way of being. Hence, businesses can reach out to more people in more ways—it’s as simple as that.
No business can afford not to tap into the 1-billion-strong market of people with disabilities that have $1.2 trillion in annual disposable income; isn’t it? ( Source: Forrester 2021)
Shifting from Ramps to Clicks
To deliver on the above-mentioned areas, a company needs an effective digital accessibility plan that must be crafted with care and executed with precision.
The principles of accessible design are well understood in industrial design (for example, things like scissors remove ‘handedness’ and hinder none) and physical architecture (for example, a staircase excludes wheelchairs but a ramp doesn’t).
In the digital space, numerous assistive and adaptive technologies are available. Some of these have frankly amazing abilities, but the solutions are partial often or won’t gel with each other. Unless one is dependent on them, one probably won’t think much about them.
Thus, businesses must consider that ambidextrous scissors concept and apply it to things including online documents like PDFs, portals, websites, applications, shopping carts, and so on—as genuine accessibility empowers everyone by removing barriers to accessing and delivering information, services, or products.
Just imagine working from home throughout the deadly COVID-19 pandemic if you required a closed-captioning option but Zoom didn’t have that functionality. Sounds dreadful!
Taking the Step Forward
Adding accessibility features as appendages to PDF documents, websites, applications, and other core functionalities enable greater access for more people, including the ones with different abilities. However, the increased complexity and complicated learning curves might result in the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do, if you are not a professional. Therefore, organizations must tackle digital accessibility with a comprehensive approach. And, consulting professionals to convert PDF to ADA compliant documents, or make your websites accessible is a good option, to begin with.
The experts take care of everything from color-contrast requirements, to the addition of alt-texts, to ensuring logical tab, to correct reading order, etc.— deliver without presenting obstacles to people using a voice-to-text feature, eye-tracking technology, braille keypads, or screen readers, sign language and so on. As you know where to begin with, now is the time to make the move!
ADA Compliance Services to Make Your Content More Accessible