Digital Accessibility: Making Digital Content Work for Everyone

How to make documents accessible
Digital accessibility is the process of designing websites, products, and technologies in a way that they can be accessed by every individual. This includes documents, videos, audio, hardware, websites, and other digital assets. Whether your user is visually impaired or has a cognitive disability, there are several reasons to make digital content accessible to everyone.

Why is Digital Accessibility Important?

According to a statistic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of the adult US population has some kind of disability. Among this number, 4.6% of the population have a vision impairment, while 10.8% suffer from cognitive disabilities. We all know how heavily people consume digital content these days. And, with the above- stated figure, imagine the number of people who are restrictedg from accessing your contentbecause of their disability.
If you are not working towards making your digital content obtainable to everyone by enforcing digital accessibility, then you are leaving out at least 2.2 billion of the global population who have visual impairments.
Apart from the “accessibility to all” issue, you also invite penalties and monetary damages to your business if you fail to adhere to the accessibility guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has highlighted website accessibility significantly. After digitalization gained popularity, the term ADA website compliance became common. According to that, you need to make your websites, applications (apps), or other digital properties accessible to every userRegardless of their abilities. And if you fail to comply with the rules, you are faced with penalties and other harsh expenses. Your business will be ordered to pay legal fees, and you will need to make the necessary fixes.

What are the Principles of Digital Accessibility?

There are four main principles of digital accessibility recognized by the WCAG (Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines) is encompassed by the acronym POUR. Let us explore what each principle stands for:

  1. Perceivable – According to the first principle of digital accessibility, your user interface and the information must be conveyed to the users in an easily perceivable way. The user should be able to make sense of the digital content without difficulties. Everyone, whether they read the information or use an additional technology for reading, should be able to perceive accurate knowledge. To make content perceivable
    Alt (alternative) text should be provided for matters with no text, like the images
    Content should be adaptable to structure in ways without losing the original information
  2. Operable – Operable content means users can successfully navigate through buttons, controls, and navigation tools. Even when users use assistive technologies like screen readers or Braille displays, they should be able to operate the digital content without any hassles.To make digital content more operable, you should focus on the following:
    • Making every function accessible with the help of a keyboard, mouse, and other assistive inputs
    • Giving users enough time to access the content
    • Not designing content that can cause seizures or physical reactions
    • Providing easier navigation
  3. Understandable – Understandable digital content relates to making the user interface and information easier
    to comprehend for every user. The design, presentation, format, and usage pattern should hold an appropriate tone and voice.

     

    Making web content understandable requires you to:

    • Create readable and understandable text
    • Operate the webpage in a predictable manner
    • Give input assistance to avoid or correct mistakes
  4. Robust – The content should be robust enough for users and their assistive technologies to interpret it correctly to access websites, documents, and media easily. To make it robust, your business must prioritize compatibility for user agents and technologies.

What is the Difference Between Web Accessibility and Digital Accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the principles that make a website and other content and technologies equally accessible to people with disabilities. Every website, tool, and technique should be developed in a way that everyone, whether they have a disability or not, can perceive, operate, understand, interact, and contribute to the web.
Whereas digital accessibility includes web accessibility along with referring to the accessibility of everything digital videos, electronic documents, audio, animations, and mobile apps!

Why Should Businesses Focus on Digital Accessibility?

Today, digitally accessible content is not an option anymore. A business should be ADA-compliant regarding web accessibility. Not only is it a legal requirement, but as a business owner, it is also your ethical duty to make sure whatever content you put on the internet is non-discriminatory towards people with visual or cognitive impairments.

Digital accessibility is also known to be a proven strategy for operational success. In fact, 71% of the users with a disability will leave your website if it is not accessible. 

Here are other reasons why digital accessibility should be a focus of your business:
  1. Improve User Experience – Accessible content is going to increase user experience for people with all abilities. It will make it easier for everyone to navigate and read text.
  2. Increase Sales Revenue – You lose many potential customers if you do not make your digital content accessible. And we are not talking about a few hundred, but significant population of people. It is believed that a business sees an increase in its sales revenue when there is an accessible design as it:
    • Reaches a larger customer base
    • Makes your site easier to use
    • Improves your SEO rankings
    • Drives innovation
  3. Eliminate Chances of Getting Penalized – In the United States, businesses must comply with the digital and web accessibility ADA.Your business will undergo costly lawsuits if you do not follow the rules and regulations set to make content accessible.
So, ensure you comply with the laws and avoid getting penalized.
Incorporating Digital Accessibility
Previously, accessibility was only applied to physical, private, and public spaces. But today, as the world has taken a turn with the widespread of technology, it has expanded its wings to the digital world. Businesses, technologies, litigations, and others must push themselves further to achieve complete digital accessibility to stay inclusive and compliant with the laws. And as the internet continues growing to provide digital solutions, web developers need to level up and include elements of digital accessibility!

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