Amazon's Alexa, dark mode, captions, Google image search – what do all these things have in common?
They are all forms of digital accessibility! Moreover, they are used on an everyday basis by the general public, disability or not.
Who Benefits from Digital Accessibility?
As I've learned more about universal design, I've realized how prevalent digital accessibility is in today's era! It's eye-opening to see how many people benefit from accessible web practices.
Disability does not discriminate. Consequently, the population of people with disabilities experiences a rainbow of different challenges, strengths, perspectives, and preferences. It's important to learn how they use your website so that you can improve it as much as possible.
Accessibility Reaches Beyond the Disability Community
A friendly reminder: Accessibility benefits everyone, regardless of disability. Lots of people who aren't in the official "disability" category still need digital accessibility. Remember these groups when designing your site or app!
Users with limited or low vision
For most of my childhood, I didn't have proper assistive technology, despite being legally blind. Many people are currently in the same situation. With accessible websites, this is not as big of a problem!
There's also a considerable population that has low vision but doesn't meet the classifications of legal blindness or visual impairment. They may need digital features like high-contrast text and the ability to zoom in on content.
Users with cognitive limitations
Cognitive limitations often go undiagnosed or aren't prevalent enough to be considered a full-on disability. For example, I have friends who struggle with things like word decoding and focusing. They manage their symptoms on their own without outside help.
Whatever the case may be, folks with cognitive difficulties will welcome any useful accessibility elements on a site. Things like bulleted lists and accessibility-friendly fonts can aid with focus.
Did you know that over 67.3 million U.S. residents use a language other than English at home? For someone who isn't fluent or uses a different primary language, there are ways to better welcome them to your site.
Increasing a website's readability is important. For example, it's best to provide these individuals with more time to read text on auto-rotating slideshows. Do this by allowing users to pause a slideshow.
P.S. - The tactic mentioned above of allowing a user to pause a slideshow also helps people like me with visual impairments! If I don't have enough time to see the details of an image, it's empowering to be able to pause the media.
The aging population
The elderly are more prone to increasing physical and cognitive challenges. Though they aren't typically considered "disabled," older individuals may need video captions, larger font size, and easy online navigation.
Users with temporary disabilities
Temporary disabilities could range from someone with a severe concussion to someone recovering from a stroke. For these periods, someone may not be able to use their mouse and rely solely on their keyboard.
Help Your Customers Through Digital Accessibility
If you take into account all the groups listed above, you'll see the overwhelming amount of people who engage with digital accessibility.
Testing your website with users from these communities is an imperative step in your digital accessibility journey. You can learn more on how to do this with our resources on user testing.
Hungry for more accessibility insight? Learn how to keep accessibility at the forefront of your digital operations. Check out our e-book, Web Accessibility: Your Roadmap to Building Inclusive Digital Experiences.