It’s no secret that the earlier something is planned into a project lifecycle, the more cost-effective it is and better it integrates. Sadly, solutions for accessibility are often tacked on at the end as an afterthought.
Accessibility isn’t at the forefront of many people’s minds, as the majority of us are blessed with good health. The times we are not, it’s often just a passing phase.
Most countries currently have no legal requirements around accessibility affecting the private sector. However, if we consider all of the people affected by the lack of digital accessibility, estimated to be 15% of the world's population or 1 billion, there’s a real need for it.
Bringing accessibility, and any inclusivity, in at the requirements and design phases improves the development process. It will also reduce costs when accessibility does become a legal requirement. It also demonstrates that the business is a forerunner and advocate of diversity and inclusivity, helping to raise its profile in an ever-competitive market.
So how does a new project go about targeting accessibility from the get-go? There are a number of ways a business can approach integrated accessibility:
- Look at the employee base. Are there individuals working in the company with accessibility issues, or with family members that have them, who could be involved? And has anyone taken courses or modules in Human Computer Interaction or other associated classes?
- Find an external company with a proven track record of being involved with accessibility has been a cornerstone in the software development lifecycle.
While it is beneficial to look internally for employees with accessibility experience, it is unlikely to cover the diversity of accessibility issues. Even within a given disability, the impact on it can vary widely.
It is often said in the Autism Spectrum Disorder communities that, “if you’ve met one person with ASD, you’ve met one person with ASD”. This is true of any disability or accessibility limitation.
Partnering with an external company that not only has proven experience with accessibility, but often has a considerable bank of tools and equipment used by those with accessibility issues, is a simple yet effective approach. Not only does it benefit the development of an application or website, but also the business’s brand image and marketing appeal to a wider audience.
It is also good practice to form habits which integrate accessibility, rather than treat accessibility as an afterthought. Write user stories from the basis of a user with impairments, such as sight (colour-blindness, limited/no sight), physical (Parkinson’s, motion limitation), and cognitive (ASD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, age).
Make alternative text for images and tool-tips a habit. Alternative text provides information to screen-readers to aid those with sight or cognitive issues. Also ensure that links and menu items contain detailed descriptions to aid screen-readers.
Between providing accessibility to your current audience and thinking about your future one, delivering on the promise of inclusivity should be a priority now. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you navigate the challenges of accessibility and better service your users’ needs.