Making sure that websites, apps, devices and all digital media are accessible and inclusive for everyone is imperative for a successful economy. Disabled citizens cannot be left behind. An inclusive digital future is vital for everyone.
Accessibility, also now thought of in broad terms as inclusive design, benefits everyone and not just those users with disabilities or impairments. Thoughtfully considered and intuitive design at its best allows for fluid transitions from app to app and from industry to industry. Accessible technology could make website navigation easier for the majority of computer users.
Laws are now in place to compel government and industry to comply. According to recent court rulings, an inaccessible website or inaccessible digital communications are barriers and in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 508. “Parity” standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are being updated and enforced. Go to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website for more information. W3C is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.
It is in the best interest of both government and the private sector to keep current with the latest technology and accessibility is the foundation of our new digitally-driven society. Accessible design provides a better user experience. Period.
From a purely economic standpoint, the fact is that people with disabilities make up a significant portion of the population, yet are often excluded from brands and digital media due to access barriers. According to the World Bank, approximately one billion people worldwide live with a disability, making up the world’s largest minority. Designing from an accessibility-first standpoint has the potential to benefit all stakeholders, not just people with disabilities.
Accessibility and inclusive design is important for government entities for all of the same reasons as it is for industry, with the added appeal of streamlining processes used by the public at large. Having intuitive systems in place for large-scale, high volume applications such as voting systems, public safety and medical networks and government agency access ensures ease of use and minimizes user error.
Making products and services useable for the broadest possible audience is good business. Inclusion is always the best policy, and an engaged population impacts efficiency at all levels of government. Accessible systems by definition require less intervention by actual people, and the savings in manpower expenses is just one example of return on investment.
Protection from discrimination is important for all people, and laws have rightly been in place to protect disabled people for a long time. With the technology now available it is easier than ever to make sure that everyone has access to the information and services that they need.
The global economy and digitally-focused world is putting pressure on industry and governments to enact and enforce legislation to protect people with disabilities from discrimination.
Government should take steps to enforce the laws that are in place and enact new ones to keep up with technology. It should encourage businesses to prioritize the accessibility of their websites and apps. Enforcing accessibility should be approached in the same way as taxation is. To the full extent of the law.