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Why Accessibility is Not About Disability

By Pauline Yates | Senior Consultant

INSIGHTS // Articles

22 Oct 2019


INSIGHTS // Articles


By Pauline Yates

22 Oct 2019

Imagine you are sitting in a planning meeting and someone says, “we need the next release to be more accessible”.

The first thing that pops into your head is guide dogs, white sticks, and sign language. You then find yourself asking, “what has that got to do with our releases?”

It is a common misconception that accessibility only applies to a minority group. In 2011, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 15% of the global population lives with some form of permanent disability. That’s just over 1 billion people, almost the same as the total population of India, so not really a “minority”.

Image: Two elderly people using a notebook PC. Title: Why Accessibility is Not About Disability

The impact of poor or lacking accessibility has a direct knock-on effect to the parents, children, siblings, loved ones, carers, and more of those living with a permanent disability. This raises the numbers of those who would benefit from integrated accessibility significantly.

An aging population also raises these numbers on a daily basis, as infirmity and slow down of cognitive function increases.

On top of permanent disabilities, we also have the temporary accessibility issues, which can strike anyone of us on any given day. These include:

  • Temporary physical injuries, such as broken bones, soft tissue damage, etc.

  • Temporary cognitive issues resulting from illness (migraine, flu, etc.), tiredness, effects of alcohol, etc.

  • Situational limitations when your hands are full (shopping, carrying young children), physically unable to interact (driving), unable to listen to a video (no headphones in a public place), in a shower or bath, and wanting to adjust volume/change programme/change music on smart device.

  • Incidental limitations when your mouse, keyboard or headphones breaks and no replacement is available.

Accessibility issues do not only relate to 15% of the world’s population - they affect anyone and everyone interacting with a digital platform.

If we think about the impact that accessibility solutions already had on everyone on a day-to-day basis, we can see why accessibility is beneficial to us all. Consider the automatic doors at a supermarket we use every day, aiding parents of young children and people loaded with bags. Now think of subtitles found in an online video or voice-activated technologies on smart devices.

This is why accessibility isn’t just about guide dogs, white sticks, and sign language. Accessibility is so much more - it’s about quality of life, simplifying our interactions with technology and the world, and ensuring that, as we continue our technological progress, no-one gets left behind. That's why companies must think about how they deliver a great experience to all users.

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.

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