Easy Access for Everyone

Sheree Atcheson
Group VP, Diversity & Inclusion

March 07, 2022

Technology has the potential to make our lives more convenient, but some users enjoy greater privilege when it comes to the quality of digital experiences. Truly advancing intersectionality means championing diversity and inclusion for people from all backgrounds. We may acknowledge this in relation to race and gender - but the physically and cognitively disabled are often overlooked.

We’ve all become more e-dependent due to the pandemic, with 782 million new users interacting with various digital services since 2019. That includes healthcare, paying bills, online shopping, attending work meetings, and connecting with friends and family to retain a semblance of normality in trying times. However, these services can often be inaccessible to disabled users, leading to reduced quality of life and, in some cases, health concerns.

Digital experiences are a key factor in CX. You won’t be able to drive customer experiences if your platform isn’t accessible. This isn’t a revolutionary insight, but CX needs to move away from treating digital accessibility as a checklist to make it work.

Why digital accessibility matters

Guaranteeing accessibility to disabled users presents a major step forward for inclusivity and social justice. It’s crucial that we understand how people exist in society, and how they’re all treated. If we don’t, then we’ll shift toward privileged perspectives where disadvantaged people are overlooked.

This has already played out online, with Nucleus Research suggesting 70% of websites aren’t accessible. What’s more, World Health Organisation research suggests one billion people experience some form of disability, so the volume of inaccessible sites and applications is no small issue. This challenge is also intensifying, with the number of people requiring assistive technology predicted to exceed two billion by 2030.

Some may think of disabilities in terms of major physical or mental impairments they’ll likely never have, but WHO suggests most of us will experience a temporary or permanent disability at some point in our lives. Combine this with the potential need to care for family and friends, and it’s clear that accessibility matters for all of us.

Businesses stand to gain by providing better digital experiences. Research from Return on Disability suggests the global disability market controls $13 trillion in disposable income, and they’re more likely to spend on platforms that provide quality services. This stands to drive CX, allowing organisations to meet customer acquisition and retention KPIs.

How to make it work

Brands can make their sites accessible through a series of UX best practices. Here’s some of the most important.

  1. First off - Content is King™️. It’s a huge cognitive load for users to make their way through massive chunks of text, so make it scannable by using simple language, shorter sentences and avoiding repetition. Also structure your blogs with content blocks, moving down from the title to subheadings, paragraphs and lists. When you include anchor text, make it descriptive so the user knows what they’re going to view.
  2. Make your pages more engaging for the visually impaired. Consider assistive software like ZoomText to increase text size, and the alt attribute to give detailed descriptions of images. You can also highlight the most important images on a page and hide others to streamline the experience. Use strong colour contrasting to enhance the text and improve readability.

  3. Replace inaccessible PDFs with HTML alternatives. That means users won’t need to deal with text that won’t adapt to your screen’s size or orientation, or open 3rd party apps that take them off your site altogether. Basic HTML can provide great accessibility, so make sure your site design isn’t too complicated when coding with CSS and Java.

  4. Make audio-visual content more accessible with transcripts and closed captions for users with hearing or visual impairments. HTML also helps here, with transcripts searchable via Google. You can also include targeted keywords to provide detail to search engines on your content and boost SEO.

At Valtech, we’re committed to using these techniques to build inclusive sites that work for everyone. We’ve also covered a lot more on our insights blog, please click here to learn more.

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