Digital inclusion – a larger audience than you may realise
Digital inclusion and web accessibility mean understanding the relationship between the way people function in society and making sure everybody gets the same opportunity to participate. By putting yourself in the shoes of those who need accessibility tools, you gain a greater understanding of the sheer scope of the affected users and why accessibility is important.
For public organisations becoming accessible is not a choice to be made, but a regulation to follow. For private organisations it is a question of whether or not you want to be visible and reachable for everyone or only a limited group of people.
But is it even a question?
When you are producing content that is not accessible, be it documents, webpages, blogs, etc. – you are actively alienating 15 per cent of the world’s population. That is one billion people.
This group includes the people with disabilities within the range of auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, and visual impairments.
However, it also includes your grandparents who can no longer read the fine print on websites or have trouble hearing that podcast you sent them. It includes the friend who broke his wrist and cannot use a computer mouse for the next few weeks. Or it could be you, trying to watch a video on your phone in a noisy place that limits how much you can hear.
Some of these people may be temporary users of what digital inclusion brings to the table, but none the less, they are in need of accessible content in that very moment or for a longer period of time. In a modern society where a majority of services have transitioned into a digital format, it is imperative that these services are accessible for everyone who needs them. Even if it is just a few weeks with a broken wrist or a need for slightly larger fonts to read.
Ethics or law
By September 2020, it will be mandatory for all public organisations to adhere to a set of accessibility guidelines known as the WCAG[MB5] , developed by W3C. Even though it is a mandatory step for public organisations, it is a choice for the private sector.
But regulation or not, how can you as a company stand by excluding 15 per cent of users, rendering them unable to access standard information, like opening hours, or that they are unable to properly fill in a contact formula on a council website. Not working towards becoming a more accessible organisation, equals to actively excluding those who need accessibility.
The journey to becoming web accessible takes time, planning and money - but the benefit from it is greater than it may seem initially. Take your time but make this change and help make the web a better place.