Are your services really user-friendly for all your clients?
We have all had to ramp up, or vamp up, our online interactions. 2020 is now bookmarked in history as a year we all had to pivot, reshape or adapt to survive. While 20/20 did not give us perfect vision, it did alter the online landscape. Speedily designed portholes and platforms inadvertently left a good percentage of us stranded as spectators, ‘wave after wave’ we spectated whilst the rest of the world continued surfing online.
Do you know that approximately 15% of your cliental face barriers to accessing digital information? That is not including those who have limited data or reduced access to smart technology.
Many of us with ‘invisible’ disabilities, dyslexia, low vision or hearing loss, won’t announce it to the general public. 10% of men are red/green colour blind, some people have processing difficulties or learning problems. Just because we are adults, does not mean the struggles have gone away. We have just adapted as best we can in order to cope or hide it. Second or third language users may have no struggles but face difficulty because the text is not easy to read, or the speed of the carousel is not adjustable. Add those with low literacy and tired eyes from too much screen-time, and the percentage of reluctant readers has just gone up.
An additional percentage of your customers may have more severe disabilities and use specialised assistive technology or keyboard only, to glean information from your site. Unlabelled buttons, lack of Alternate text on images or ambiguous link descriptions can make your content inaccessible or exclusive. If your site developers, App developers, graphics creators and copy writers are not aware of this, you may be locking out the very people you exist to serve.
Few of us complain about the difficulties to the organisations we are part of because it exposes our vulnerability and we do not want to cause inconvenience for the people who support us. Another point is that many do not realise that a border here or a shadow on the font there, would make a huge difference to the readability and decreased stress. Awareness of inclusive design can unlock inclusion.
Check the authoring tools that you use to create your content, and make sure you can put the correct coding and procedures into the foundation of your designs, because it is a real mission to do alterations later. It is a bit like a building project. If you tastefully design for accessibility in planning phase, you will save yourself money, time, frustration and not-so-pretty alterations in the future.
My biggest frustration is when there is important information, like dates, times, costs or venues, that are beautifully printed on an image that has no alternate text added. I can see enough to know that there is a bold red sticker on the right and a few styles of font that look like lumpy lines, but my screen reader says, “png 5739205 draft 3 final”. If you don’t use a screen reader, you may be blind to the fact that the visually impaired community know how many attempts were made for this image. I don’t want to embarrass the company or organisation by telling them what we hear, but I do genuinely want to know if there is a bargain, a meeting or a button to donate.
Some very smart people use speech only to navigate or create content. This could be because of temporary injury or permanent paralysis. It is easily done with all our smart technology, but very frustrating when there are 7 ‘read more’ links on the page. Try telling your computer which one to read – a fun experiment …if you are not in the middle of a research project.
The universal access motto is, “what is essential for some is useful for all” (WCAG). Wouldn’t you want your site to be such a pleasure to use that clients refer other people in the 15% club to switch to your services? How about checking the essentials on your site or contact us for a fun interactive online workshop to increase awareness of digital inclusion for your team.
For those providing essential services, it is particularly important that vulnerable people can use your services independently, without giving away passwords, pin numbers and other security information. Too many of our disabled community have been victims of theft and abuse because of needing to rely on others for filling form fields, private data or credit card details. Blind people can do this (even with our eyes shut ;)) if all the fields, scroll pickers and scanner buttons are correctly formatted. We appreciate the dignity of this independence.
If we really believe that all life is sacred and every person is valuable, then let’s design to empower all.