Why do we need accessible user interfaces
Solve for one, extend to everyone
Written by Andrea Giunta, adapted by Irene Brambilla
What is accessibility
Accessibility definition is :“The qualities that make an experience open to everyone.” Accessibility is an attribute while inclusive design is a method. And while practicing inclusive design should make our products more accessible, it’s not a process for meeting all accessibility standards.
Inclusive design is the method to make the interfaces accessible. It allows designing more usable products by everyone, even if this does not mean automatically reaching all accessibility standards. To measure a component’s accessibility, we refer to the guidelines provided by W3C, especially WCAG 2.1, that determine the level of accessibility achieved.
Ideally, accessibility and inclusive design work together to make experiences that are not only compliant with standards, but truly usable and open to all.
Some numbers about accessibility
The web can be a daunting place for people with a disability. Digital communication has become the standard for companies of all shapes and size to reach us as users or consumers, but are we really reaching everyone out there?
According to ISTAT, there are 3.1 million disabled people in Italy, 60% of them are women. Approximately 1 in 8 adult males and 1 in 200 adult females have some form of colour blindness.
There are some staggering statistics around the spending power of Disabled Households (12.6 billion DH).When 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from an Italian business because of poor accessibility or customer service, it is clear why being accessible can really pay.
When we talk about disability, what usually comes to mind is permanent disability, such as deafness or congenital blindness. But this is not the only form of disability.
There are other two types of disability:
- Situational: A person with typical vision might struggle to view their screen in a bright environment. Or, a person sitting in a library may be unable to watch a video with the audio turned on. As people move through different environments, their abilities can also change dramatically. Trying to conversate in a loud environment such as a concert can quickly become impossible. What’s generally considered safe is constantly changing.
- Temporary: Short-term injuries or an unfamiliar environment can affect the way. people interact with the world around them. Think about the experience of browsing a website with a broken wrist, getting around with a broken leg or ordering something to eat during a vacation in a foreign country.
Accessible and Inclusive Digital Design in mondora
In mondora, our ambition is to create products that are physically, cognitively and emotionally appropriate for everybody. It all starts with seeing human diversity as a resource that can help us creating better and beautiful accessible designs.
The inclusive design offers several advantages, not only for disabled people. Let’s see three examples:
1: Accessible design as a driver for digital innovation
Integrating accessibility removes architectural, digital, and social barriers that can get in the way of innovation. Accessible design is by its nature flexible, allowing content to faithfully render across a broad spectrum of devices, platforms, assistive technologies, and operating systems. In physical environments, everyone takes advantage of lower curbs, automatic door openers, ramps, and other features provided for disability access. On the web, accessibility features become options that are also often used more widely.
2. Accessible design as a driver for brand enhancement
Businesses need to protect and enhance their brands. A clear commitment to accessibility can demonstrate that a business has a genuine sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Potential outcomes for CSR programs include enhanced brand image and reputation, increased sales and customer loyalty, improved workforce diversity and many other benefits. Further studies emphasize the benefits to the brand of companies that institute policies of broad diversity.
3. Accessible design as a driver for user empowerment
The user-centered and participatory design processes have the advantage that the resulting designs from these approaches are more likely to be adopted by users with disabilities. When designing for user empowerment, users design the requirements and features, develop and test prototypes, and analyse the results of testing to refine the design. The main reason that people with disabilities should be so deeply involved is that they have the biggest stake in the eventual product.
Toward inclusivity by design
When thinking about Accessible design, we need to aim at providing better user experiences for everyone and not only to help people with disabilities. As taught by the inclusive design principles, everyone has abilities, and limits to those abilities. Designing for people with permanent disabilities actually results in designs that benefit people universally. This is what we consider becoming Inclusive by Design.
“Solve for one, extend to everyone” should be our mantra
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