A spotlight on accessibility

I’m Mark Wright, a Lead Designer here at Made Tech. I am very passionate about making the web a more accessible place through design.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia at a very young age and found it difficult to use computers and read content for a very long time. I still do today, but now I have better coping mechanisms such as using assistive tech like Dragon speech to text, to name one.

In this post, I’m going to take a look at three benefits of prioritising accessibility and share resources for further learning.

Why is accessibility so important? 

I love this quote: “Individuals with an impairment are disabled by society’s failure to build an inclusive environment”. To me, it really says it all! 

Accessibility is about making your digital service work for as many people as possible. While some companies may be hesitant to prioritise accessibility because they view it as costly or time-consuming when it comes down to it the benefits outweigh the costs. Let’s have a look at some of these benefits.

It’s right the thing to do 

Plain and simple, making services accessible to everyone is the right thing to do. There are 14.1 million people with disabilities in the UK. By not making your service accessible you are excluding these people and potentially losing out on £274 billion a year of extra spending power.

It’s the law 

When it comes to public sector services, accessibility is a legal requirement. As of 23 September 2018 public sector services have to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to a AA standard.

It’s more user friendly for everyone

Following good accessible design practices can benefit everyone, not just people with a disability. There are plenty of things that frustrate people on the internet. An example of this is carousels, which are awful for non-disabled people and even worse for people with access needs. 

An accessible website gives access to information and interaction to everyone.

Here at Made Tech, we’re embarking on our own accessibility journey. As we’ve been building our internal design capabilities we have realised our own website is not entirely accessible and that some work is needed to make our content available to even more people.

This isn’t something we’re going to fix overnight but we believe this is important and are committed to iteratively improve things starting with us. Acknowledging an issue is the first step in the path to making things better!

Useful resources 

There are plenty of useful resources on accessibility you can have a look at. I’ll leave you with a few recommendations on some you might want to use.

The a11y project is a great open-source resource that helps break down the WCAG into small easy to understand steps. 

The accessibility in government blog is great and has a lot of super insightful research. I would especially recommend this post from the NHSBSA about creating a budget Simulation Lab

Overall, accessibility is about including everyone no matter their background. Thinking about accessibility every step of the way when designing your digital service is incredibly important and you should put yourself in the shoes of a user with a particular accessibility need to understand how they feel.

This week is the 30th Anniversary of Disability Awareness Day. To learn more about accessibility and other ways to get involved, there are some really good events happening.

If you are interested in receiving design and accessibility content, sign up to the Made Tech Designed and Made blog. We post weekly about everything user-centred design, including some of the work we are doing with our public sector clients.

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