As digital technology advances, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that everyone can access and use it. This is where digital accessibility comes in. Axe-Con, held by Deque Systems, brought together designers and developers to discuss how we can make the web more accessible to people with disabilities. Here are some highlights from the convention and why digital accessibility matters.
The Importance of Digital Accessibility
Digital accessibility is about making sure that everyone, regardless of ability, can access and use digital products such as websites, mobile apps, and software. It’s not just a matter of being socially responsible; it’s also a legal requirement. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that businesses make their digital content accessible to people with disabilities. Failure to comply can result in legal action, hefty fines, and reputational damage.
Statistics About How People with Disabilities Use the Web
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people have a disability, which is about 15% of the world’s population. In the United States alone, about 61 million adults have a disability, which is around 26% of the population. Many of these people rely on the internet to access information, communicate, shop, and participate in social activities.
However, people with disabilities face many barriers when accessing the web. For example, people who are blind or have low vision may use screen readers to navigate websites. Websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind may not be compatible with screen readers, making it difficult for these users to access the content. Similarly, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may rely on captions or transcripts to understand audio content. Websites that do not provide captions or transcripts may exclude these users.
Challenges to Making Emerging Technology Accessible
Emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) present new challenges for digital accessibility. These technologies are designed to create immersive experiences, but they can also create barriers for people with disabilities. For example, people who are blind or have low vision may not be able to participate fully in a VR experience that relies on visual cues. Similarly, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may miss out on audio cues.
To make VR and AR accessible, designers and developers must consider the needs of people with disabilities from the outset. This means incorporating features such as audio descriptions, haptic feedback, and accessible user interfaces.
Simple Issues Make Up the Vast Majority of Accessibility Issues
While emerging technologies present new challenges for digital accessibility, the vast majority of accessibility issues are simple to fix. According to the WebAIM Million report, missing image alt text and insufficient color contrast are the two most common accessibility issues, making up over 60% of all issues. Other common issues include missing form labels, poor page structure, and inaccessible videos.
What Companies Can Do to Make Their Digital Products Accessible
Designing for accessibility doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Here are some simple steps that companies can take to make their digital products accessible:
- Use clear and concise language
- Provide alternative text for images
- Ensure sufficient color contrast
- Use heading tags to structure content
- Add captions or transcripts to videos
- Make sure forms are properly labeled
- Provide keyboard navigation for all functions
By following these guidelines, companies can create digital products that are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
At Lion + Panda, we believe that digital accessibility is essential for creating a more inclusive world. If you’re interested in making your digital product more accessible, reach out to us today. Our team of experts can help you identify accessibility issues and implement solutions