A grandmother and a boy watching TV together
by Inés San Luís
Dec 7, 2022

Introduction to Digital Accessibility: Apps & Websites

Digital accessibility is the technological consideration for removing barriers and which helps interaction with digital products. It is meant for people NOT ONLY with disabilities or socio-economic restrictions, but also helps a larger section of society than one would imagine it to be. 


Think about ramps into buildings, to avoid stairs. Most of them are built to make access to buildings easier, for people who find it hard to walk, or use wheelchairs. However, they are also pretty useful for people with baby strollers or heavy luggage. In the same way, I bet we are all glad for automatic doors, especially whenever we carry heavy bags.

When talking about Digital Accessibility, we refer to the process of making digital products such as websites or apps available or accessible to everyone. It is about ensuring that all users, regardless of their abilities and disabilities, have access to the same information. Disabilities can be physical and restrictions can be socio-economic such as  lack of bandwidth or performance of digital products. 

Accessible design is important because it benefits all, whether it’s ramps into buildings or navigating within apps. To showcase its current importance, The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities establishes that access to information and communications technology is a human right!


Why do we not pay enough attention to creating accessible digital products? 

The answer probably has something to do with the fact that most people think that digital accessibility will not have a direct impact on their own lives. We operate in a world limited to our perspectives and it is easy to forget  to be thoughtful or sensitive, as we should be all the time. Similarly, most people tend to think that accessibility will neither improve commerce significantly nor affect too many others’ lives. 

This is when we should think of how a ramp into a building helps a person with a heavy bag as much as it does, a person on a wheelchair. We should remember that it is a need, for many.

According to the World Health Organisation about 15% of the world’s population lives with some sort of disability. Not only is that number dramatically increasing, but as we age, we will all start collecting disabilities. Our vision will begin to decline, we will be more likely to have a mobility impairment, and so on. To top it all off,  almost everyone will experience some form of temporary disability throughout their lives, such as a sprained wrist.

In other words, eventually, we will all need improved Digital Accessibility, be it screen readers or voice assistants and that’s why we should definitely care! 


So where does one start? 

The answer is pretty simple, we start by trying to learn and understand the enormity of all of this. Its need and scope. 

For instance, many people with mobility impairments rely on their keyboards to navigate through apps. But have you ever tried to experience how that feels, by turning off your mouse and ditching your trackpad? 

At this point, I hope that the usefulness and importance of making digital accessibility content start to seem obvious to you as well. Being aware is the first step, but you can make a bigger difference by supporting people with disabilities and disability communities. It’s easy to make quick changes, like bringing up the topic within your own company and having meaningful discussions about why accessibility matters. There’s frankly no reason why you shouldn’t make an effort not to forget. Start caring for an accessible and inclusive digital world, do yourself a favour!

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