Accessibility in digital products, is it important?
Digital products are accessible when all potential users can use them. This includes users with disabilities or users who for some reason cannot use the app as they should. It ensures that all users have a good user experience (UX). It is important that users have easy access to all information of the digital product. This contributes to the accessibility of the product.
Accessibility for everyone
A common misconception is that accessibility focuses only on people with disabilities. This is not the case. Accessibility also helps individuals who find themselves in temporary situations that prevent them from using the product in a normal way. Think, for example, of a sunny day when it is difficult to see content on your screen. Accessibility takes many things into account to ensure that everyone can enjoy the product. Different screen sizes or a poor internet connection are examples of issues that need to be addressed by the product's accessibility settings.
Your product must be designed for everyone, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, age or ability. A good product is also accessible to people with hearing, motor, vision or cognitive disabilities. Unfortunately there are still many digital products with accessibility barriers. Which makes it difficult, or in some cases even impossible, for some people to use the product. At Endare we believe that digital products should be accessible to everyone. We do our best to learn from past projects and raise the bar each time!
Why does accessibility matter?
Nowadays, the Internet is the main source of information, entertainment and communication for most of the developed world. It is impossible to imagine our world without digital products. Online shopping has become the primary retail experience for many people. We make doctor's appointments digitally. And keeping in touch with friends, family and loved ones happens with chat messages and video calls. However, large parts of the internet are not yet easily accessible to everyone. So people with disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, may have difficulty performing everyday tasks most of us take for granted.
By investing effort into making accessible products, you often create happy side effects. A side effect that not only benefits people with certain disabilities. Putting your iPhone into night mode, dictating a message while driving, even using a hoverboard. These are all examples of times when you benefit from accessibility technology. People created this technology originally to help people with disabilities. Accessibility is therefore not only ethical, but also necessary for everyone's daily tasks.
Good accessibility is also interesting for your business. Studies show that accessible websites achieve better positions in search results. This makes you SEO-friendly and thus you reach a larger audience. Websites with good accessibility often have faster download times, are easier to use and generally create a better user experience. This improves the positive feeling of users as they browse through your website.
How do I ensure that my digital product is accessible to everybody?
With all these benefits of accessibility one ought to ask how to get started with designing accessible products. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is a guide to help you make your digital product more accessible. WCAG is primarily written for developers as a technical standard. The guide contains 13 guidelines. These are organised under 4 main principles. Each guideline is tested and given a score of A, AA or AAA.
Principle 1: Perceivable
The user must always be able to perceive the information on the website and the interface in a way that he/she can. The following guidelines ensure a good perceptibility:
Provide text alternatives for non-text content. Make sure that your content can be changed, such as in speech, larger fonts, simple language, …
With multimedia, it is important that you provide captions and other alternatives.
Make sure that your content is adaptable. Make it possible that your content can be presented in different ways, without loss of information or structure.
Users must find it easy to distinguish things on your digital product.
Principle 2: Operable
This principle especially applies to the user interface and navigation. All components must be controllable and all functionalities must be available from a keyboard.
Make sure that users have enough time to read and use the content.
Do not design content that can provoke seizures or physical reactions.
Provide clear navigation. Make sure users know where they are and can find content within the digital product.
Not all users can use a keyboard. Provide options to use other inputs.
Principle 3: Understandable
Both the information and the use of the user interface must be understandable to everyone.
First of all, the text must be easy to read and understand.
Make sure your pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Provide input assistance to help users avoid mistakes.
Principle 4: Robust
Finally, content must remain accessible when technology changes.
Ensure compatibility with current and future user agents and assistive technologies.
Final thoughts on accessibility
To conclude, when your digital product meets the requirements of WCAG, it will not only be more accessible for people with disabilities. Every user benefits from an accessible product and keeping in mind the principles mentioned above will improve the user experience.
At Endare, we strive to make every product as accessible as possible. For Amap, we apply WCAG to make the application accessible to everyone. As a reporting app, it's important to give everyone the chance to report issues to the right service. For example, we let the app fill certain things out in advance, which improves the user experience of the app.
Are you curious how we can improve the accessibility of your digital product? Then don't hesitate to contact us.
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