Over recent years, many organisations have made a commitment and a conscious effort to be more inclusive. By doing that, they have become more accessible; whether it’s by installing gender-neutral toilets, implementing audio descriptions in the cinema or employing members of staff dedicated to assisting those who need help, however, there is still a long way to go, and with so much of our lives being online, the online world needs to be more accessible too.
While organisations have focussed on bricks and mortar; the physical accessibility of ramps, toilets and lifts, there is still more to be done here, however at least there has been a lot of progress and people are aware of it and working on it. With the internet enabling us to have pretty much whatever we want at the click of the button, life should be getting a lot easier. While people have ramps, handles, in-home power wheelchair service and maintenance, to make their lives more comfortable at home, they still go to open their laptops and struggle to access the online world.
For a blind or partially sighted person who likes to have a bet on the football, they might be unable to because none of the apps for the betting companies are accessible. Straight away they’re losing out on his money because of the way they’ve designed their applications.
Also, signing up for a website can be difficult and off-putting. Since nearly every website wants to take your details now and check you’re not a robot, this can be difficult for people who are unable to use the captcha tool which checks. There is an audio captcha option, but it isn’t clear and is very fast which in the end puts people off, and they go elsewhere.
All because of the design of a website, so many companies who only have an online presence are missing out on a whole consumer group. While like anyone else – disability or no disability, some people prefer to shop online and others prefer to go physically into a shop, but clothes shopping online is challenging and offers poor descriptions. This isn’t inclusive at all as some of the best offers and prices are only available online, and then there is the returns process which can be off-putting too.
Excellent service and a good user experience earn loyalty and people will keep going back. There are some simple things that companies can do to improve their website’s accessibility: Does the keyboard provide access to navigation, in particular, the tab, arrow, and enter keys without the use of a mouse? If you’re using the keyboard to navigate around the site, does the cursor move in a logical order or flow? Do all elements such as the links, radio buttons, text boxes, and drop down menus work? Is ALT text provided for all non-text elements? Are captions provided for multimedia elements? What is the colour contrast like? How easy is it to find contact details and address or location? How easy is it to find upcoming events?
Not only does having an accessible website benefit a wider audience of people, but it also benefits companies, as it increases their audience reach, it demonstrates their dedication to social responsibility, and it improves SEO.