Yet, the majority of organizations agree that testing for accessibility by people with disabilities is important, the majority don’t do it. Many participants commented that budget prevented them from expanding usability testing to include people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the (business) drivers for accessibility continue to be a mix of legal risk reduction and the desire to do the right thing.
The longer an organization waits to incorporate accessibility, the greater the chance that the product will be inaccessible (or expensive and time-consuming to retrofit). When your company considers accessibility from the start, you will end up with a(n) stronger, diverse, accommodating, and more robust organization. This will:
- Open the product up to a new market (people with disabilities).
- Increase organizational efficiency and decreases operational costs.
- Build loyalty in customers.
- Future proofs work so it can provide more value later.
- Help reduce unconscious bias by identifying and debunking false perceptions and favors the development of more efficient products and services for your users and clients.
While automated and manual testing for web accessibility can identify many accessibility barriers, the best way to ensure an inclusive experience is to involve people with disabilities. Their user experience is an invaluable part of the development process. Below is a video which explains the value of including people with disabilities throughout every phase of your web projects, new online initiatives, and as a service provider.
Digital accessibility should also be at the forefront of every organization’s priorities as people are now solely relying on digital means for everyday activities. This includes:
- Shopping for necessities and ordering food
- Socializing and religion
- Community Services
With social and physical distancing becoming the new normal, digital systems now have the power – and the necessity – to be more accessible than their physical counterparts.
EMBRACE established a User Group which consist of individuals who provide services for people who identify themselves as a person living with a disability, work in the diversity and inclusion sphere, experience living with a disability, and/or take care of a person(s) living with a disability. This includes learning disabilities, visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, neurological, episodic, mental health, cognitive, the aging population as well as from a training perspective. They will provide feedback and be a key stakeholder of testing for web accessibility, digital accessibility, training curriculum/programs, presentations, and accessibility documentation remediation.
Creating accessible content, products and services is critical in ensuring that everyone has the ability to participate equally in society without barriers. Even though testing may require a bit more time or effort, this practice enhances the knowledge and user experience of everyone!
“Products and services are not fully finished until EVERYONE can access it!” – Michelle Buckland