Digital Accessibility: A Starter’s Guide

 Stella Porto

Stella Porto

Digital accessibility is a term that carries profound significance in our increasingly connected world. At its heart, digital accessibility ensures that digital content, such as websites, applications, and electronic documents, are accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities.

But the term isn’t just about inclusivity for the disabled community, it’s also about providing a better user experience for everyone, it ensures that digital content is more usable, comprehensible, and convenient for all users, regardless of their abilities or the situation they’re in.

For example, consider someone with a temporary disability, such as a broken arm, or facing a situational limitation like being in a noisy environment where audio cannot be heard. In such cases, accessible design benefits everyone, irrespective of their disabilities.

Digital accessibility is also a driving force for innovation, economic growth, and social development:

1) When designers and developers aim for accessibility, they must think creatively and innovatively to solve challenges and this, in turn, leads to the development of new technologies and designs. Numerous of these innovations have become an integral part of our everyday routines. Voice recognition, for example, which is now an integral part of popular technologies such as Siri (Apple iOS) and Alexa (Amazon), was designed to help individuals with disabilities.

2) In terms of its economic impact, businesses can increase their revenue by making digital content accessible, which allows them to reach a wider audience. This is of great importance considering that there are over one billion people worldwide with disabilities.

3) We can say that digital accessibility promotes inclusivity and equal opportunity. It allows everyone to participate fully in society by providing equal access to information, education, employment, and social activities that are increasingly shifting to online platforms. Digital accessibility not only alleviates social disparities but also enhances social unity.

Essential Aspects of Digital Accessibility

Universal Design: Digital accessibility starts with a universal design approach, which emphasizes the development of content that can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people. One classic example of universal design is the use of close captions on videos. Originally developed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, closed captions have proved to be beneficial to a wide range of users, such as those learning a new language or people who might be in a noisy environment. Another example is the implementation of keyboard shortcuts, while they were initially created to assist users who have trouble using a mouse, these shortcuts are now widely used by people aiming to increase their productivity and efficiency, demonstrating that features designed with accessibility in mind can benefit all users. The Universal Design approach is the basis for Digital Accessibility.

Assistive Technologies: A key component of digital accessibility is the seamless interaction with assistive technologies like screen readers, speech recognition software, and text-to-speech applications.

User-friendly Navigation: Intuitive navigation should be a primary consideration when designing websites and applications, making sure that users can easily find and access the content they need. Fortunately, at present there are many known elements in web design that take intuitive navigation into account. Read more…

 Stella Porto

Stella Porto

Stella Porto is a Learning and Knowledge Management specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, DC. Prior to IDB, Stella was the Program Director of the Master of Distance Education & E-Learning (MDE) at University of Maryland University College, having also had other leadership roles since she joined UMUC in early 2001. Earlier in her career, Stella was Professor in Computer Science at Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil. Stella received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, then obtained Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Informatics in 1991 and 1995, respectively, from the same institution

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join WiConnect