As the world celebrates the tenth anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we at TPGi feel that it’s important to educate and review why it’s essential to make digital environments more inclusive for people with disabilities. When we create a more inclusive world, we help a significant portion of the population communicate, achieve more, and live more fulfilling lives.
Why does digital accessibility matter?
Digital accessibility should be a top priority for anyone producing and publishing digital content. Why? For one thing, a significant portion of the population (15%, according to The World Bank) lives with a disability. That’s roughly one billion people! And that number of people with disabilities is likely to increase as the world’s population ages and experiences capability changes associated with aging.
Now think about how many websites and applications you engage with each day. Do you use a computer or any software applications for your livelihood? A number of us sometimes run into problems when we try to interact with computer applications, consume content or news online, or understand the information in digital documents such as when interacting with tax documents or reading resumes of job applicants in inaccessible Microsoft Word files or PDFs.
As much of world remains locked down during the pandemic, it’s been difficult to get necessities at local stores, so many people have been ordering supplies online. Millions of people in this situation haven’t been able to access these websites to order supplies. This inequality is why TPGi is deeply committed to working toward a world where everyone can access online content and software.
If you are producing or thinking of creating digital content in honor of GAAD, pledge to be a part of the solution and consider acting on any of the three proposals below.
Three Things You Can Do for Global Accessibility Awareness Day
1. Review the WCAG and 508 compliance checklists
Understanding what it means to make your digital assets inclusive will depend on your business or organization. We have created a 508 conformance checklist to help guide you or your developer when reviewing your digital assets for accessibility shortcomings. But if you want to hold yourself to a higher standard, we recommend reviewing the WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 checklists.
2. Evaluate your website for WCAG oversights
Ensuring that your website or application is as accessible as possible to everyone should be a top priority for any organization. TPGi has created accessibility tools like ARC Toolkit to quickly conduct detailed on-page testing for accessibility and uncover issues relating to the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA guidelines, and ARC Monitoring to make it easy for anyone to scan their website and quickly identify accessibility concerns.
Building an inclusive world is a process and part of your journey is scanning your website for easy-to-fix accessibility issues with a free website scan. This is a great way to kick-start your accessibility conformance journey.
3. Start identifying how you can integrate accessibility into each phase of your digital product development process
Integrating accessibility into your projects’ lifecycles will help save you time and money later because you or your team won’t have to go back and fix accessibility issues retroactively on a finished product. Whether you’re building an accessible website or internal application, or you’re creating the next viral social platform, being mindful and aware of creating an inclusive application makes for an excellent user experience. (If you are unfamiliar with the term “user experience”—or “UX”—check out the blog series that we created on user experience and digital accessibility.)
Bonus: Empathy-driven development helps improve the user’s experience
It’s important to take an empathy-driven approach when developing digital content for many reasons that go beyond altruism. When you lead with empathy and focus on your users’ experience, your focus will be on making your content inclusive to all users, helping them meet their goals.
A byproduct of creating inclusive content and optimizing for UX is that your content can also perform better in search results. (This assumes you follow all SEO best practices. One of the factors that search engines like Google and Bing consider when analyzing your digital content is user experience.)
Creating an amazing user experience is about putting people first. It’s about designing for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing abilities.
The next time you create digital content, take an empathy-driven approach, create for inclusion, analyze your project at multiple phases of your design process and create better user experiences for all. Together we can make it accessible!
Take the “Accessibility for All” pledge and commit to making your digital content inclusive! An accessible world is an inclusive world!
If you were to include another item on this list, what would you recommend people consider for Global Accessibility Awareness Day? Share your suggestion in the comments.