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Why Accessibility in Tech is Vitally Important

Chris Stewart

5 min read

Jun 15, 2021

Why Accessibility in Tech is Vitally Important

A well-designed and thoughtful app experience makes people happy. Happy people make for loyal customers. The more loyal customers your application has, the happier you are. It’s a beautiful cycle that begins with a well-designed application. But when you think “well-built application,” it’s vital that you mean well-built for use by as many people as possible. Otherwise, you’re potentially excluding a lot of users. So how do you make sure that your app is open and easy to use for all? And why is it important? Read on. 

How can you include accessibility in your app?

 

Think about accessibility before the build even begins 

Have you ever seen a building that had a wheelchair ramp added as an afterthought? Think of an all green building with a random red ramp. It looks messy and forced, right? It looks like it’s not supposed to be a part of the building. Adding in accessibility to your app after you’ve finished has the same look to it. So how do you avoid that? 

The best way is to consider the accessibility aspects of your app before you start. This means that accessibility for as many users as possible must be a forethought when creating your app. Ways to make it easier for all people to use your application have to be thought about before the building process even begins and definitely not after. Considering all types of users in your design will allow for a smoother design process and a better-looking design.

Avoid bad design at all costs.

Including accessibility in your application is the right choice, but it needs to be done correctly. Here’s a little secret: people don’t like bad design. Bad design is painfully noticeable. And bad design is usually what happens when accessibility isn’t thought about until after the application is already built (it’s also a way to build up some nasty design debt). Avoid it at all costs by simply including accessibility in the planning process because people will notice. Accessibility doesn’t have to be clunky and awkward. Good design is seamless and accessible technology should be, too.

For the basics on getting started with accessible design, check out Learn the Basics of Accessible Design

Understand that accessibility is not one size fits all.

There are a few concepts to consider when planning for accessibility technology. Accessible technologies work across a wide range of differing abilities and work to accommodate as many people as possible. That means it needs to be thought about every step of the way, from text size to application colors. 

Give users the option to enlarge text. This will make your app easier to use for all people, especially for blind or visually impaired individuals. Additionally, a voice-to-text option is very helpful for those who are deaf or hard of hearing but will also benefit a person on the go. Captions are beneficial for those who struggle with hearing but also make for a more enjoyable viewing experience for all people. 

Why is Accessibility so important? 

 

Accessibility means opening your app to as many people as possible.

So now you know that accessibility means making your application available to as many people as possible. But maybe you still need more convincing on why you should include accessibility in your app. Not a problem. 

For starters, consider that accessibility is a critical aspect of universal design. Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without adaptations and special design.  The fact of the matter is that 1 in 4 Americans has a disability. So, including accessibility is not just the right thing to do, but it also opens you up to a whole new customer base. 

Accessibility makes for a great customer experience.

The beauty of accessibility is that each user can interact with your application in the way that works best for them. Remember, first impressions are everything. Once users click out of your application, you want to make sure you did everything in your power to ensure they come back. How do you get users to keep coming back to your application? Great question. 

The answer is simple: excellent customer experience. Customers don’t want to feel frustrated when using your application, and by not including aspects that make for a great customer experience such as accessibility, many customers will be left feeling very disappointed when they cannot use your application correctly and are going to take their business elsewhere. Avoid losing customers by simply keeping customers happy. Keep customers happy by making your application user-friendly for all people.

There is literally money at stake 

Title II and Title III of the ADA requires that software, websites, and apps be accessible to as many people as possible. Not following those guidelines? That could end up literally costing your company money paid out in fines. 

Additionally, if your app leaves out an entire customer base or makes tasks more difficult for certain employees, you’re losing money, both from potential clients and from the time spent having to create workarounds. 

It’s the right thing to do

Bottom line – accessible technology is key for creating a more equitable society and that’s some good stuff for all of us. There’s also a really good chance that you’ll find that the more thoughtful you are about how you build your apps from an accessibility standpoint will translate to being more thoughtful about how you approach different parts of your business.  

Now that you have an understanding of why accessibility is essential and how to get started with accessibility in your app, you may be wondering how you can begin to implement it with actionable steps. Give us a shout and we’ll be happy to talk through all the ins and outs of what makes for a well-built app for everyone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Resources

https://sopa.tulane.edu/blog/why-accessible-technology-important

https://it.wisc.edu/learn/guides/accessible-content-tech/what-is-accessible-technology/

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