Accessibility is a philosophy rather than a list of rules

Accessibility is a philosophy rather than a list of rules

In the ongoing rush to digitalise everything, are we doing enough to serve as many audiences as possible effectively? And when developing systems, are we making sure all users can access the technology and habitually manage it?

Web accessibility means enabling universal access to your website, platform or online service. Most businesses, however, mistakenly consider it a guideline that only applies to serving users with disabilities. In reality, accessibility is about inclusion and equality for all users. In order to fully understand the scale of accessibility, it’s crucial to look beyond design systems and consider the processes supporting the technology.

Even when platforms meet web accessibility standards, a rare feat considering 98% of websites don’t comply with standards for their menus alone, they still need to follow a design-for-all approach in order to adequately serve a broader population. In other words, businesses developing and implementing these platforms need to have a basic level of understanding of the person who uses these services.

Seemingly mundane things such as cashless shopping and paperless businesses keep widening the digital gap. The bigger problem comes when the lack of access to technology means people can’t fulfil basic needs, such as managing their money or seeking medical advice.

If the “it’s the right thing to do” and “it’s the law” argument still doesn’t convince you, hopefully the financial one will do: Businesses, particularly in eCommerce, with non-accessible platforms are sending valuable customers away. In the UK alone, it’s estimated that individuals with access needs have a spending power of over £24 billion. You can find some additional stats on the topic in one of our newsletters.

An efficient solution doesn’t mean it’s the right solution. We need to shift the focus from design systems to service design. Successful service design goes beyond developing a website or an app that complies with the rules. It’s the ability to develop solutions based on what people actually can do. It’s costly and complex, but delivering a fully accessible service is crucial.

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