Thursday 20th March 2021 marked the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day, created to prompt the discussion about digital access and inclusion across technology, digital tools, assets and software around the world.
Following a day of talks and awareness-raising, inclusive user design experts are encouraging organisations to examine their digital products and services going forwards to identify and fix any accessibility issues and embed inclusion deep into their processes.
Hilary Stephenson, managing director at human-centred design agency, Nexer Digital, said: “With more than one billion people across the globe living with disabilities or impairments and society becoming increasingly reliant on digital, it is crucial to raise awareness of digital inclusion so that everyone has equal access to a positive online experience.
“To mark the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I would urge all digital designers and developers to review their products and services, work with and employ disabled people and consult with accessibility experts to ensure that they are doing all they can to make their resources inclusive.
“There are some simple, easily rectifiable accessibility failures that are still littering webpages, for example a shocking 86% of homepages use low contrast text, which can cause problems for people with impaired vision. Similarly, evolving technologies such as facial and voice recognition used to authenticate users can cause problems for those with accessibility needs if they are not designed and tested with a neurodiverse audience in mind.
“When reexamining their design, organisations must not be tempted to add accessible features, such as closed captions on videos, on top of an otherwise non-inclusive service as this will perpetuate the notion of accessibility as an afterthought. Designers should regularly audit their content, scrutinise accessibility, seek user feedback and make changes wherever necessary.
“In the modern-day with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, it is critical that those with disabilities are considered throughout every step of the digital products and services creation process so that no one gets left behind. This includes everything from the systems used to host digital services, the content within and the overall design. With all our modern innovations, there is no excuse for poor, exclusive, inaccessible digital design.”