Make accessibility part of your startup’s products and culture from day

The world of accessibility has experienced a turning point for the pandemic, which prompted people of all abilities to act more and shop online.

For the past year, the digital world was the only place brands could connect with their customers. A survey by Forrester found that 8 out of 10 companies have taken their first steps towards working on digital accessibility.

What is driving this change besides increased digital interactions? Fortune 500 companies are finally beginning to realize that people with disabilities make up 1 billion of the world’s markets. Populations and their families control more than $13 trillion in disposable income, according to the “Global Economics of Disability” of Return on Disability.

However, only 36% of the companies Forrester surveyed are fully committed to creating accessible digital experiences.

Although digital accessibility has been around for decades, companies haven’t caught on to its benefits until recently. In its latest survey, WebAIM’s Million analysis of 1 million home pages found accessibility errors on 97.4% of websites evaluated.

What does this mean for you? Why should you care? Because it is an opportunity for your company to stand out from the competition and reap the rewards of being an early adopter.

Benefits of digital access

Companies are now realizing the benefits of creating accessible products and assets that go beyond just doing the right thing. For one, people are living longer. The World Health Organization says that the number of people aged 60 and older exceeds children under the age of 5. Furthermore, the world population is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050, up from 900 million in 2015.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative provides an overview on web accessibility for older users. Here’s what it is.

  • Hearing loss affects 47% of people aged 61 to 80 years.
  • Deterioration in vision affects 16% of people aged 65 to 74.
  • Mild cognitive impairment affects 20% of people over the age of 70.
  • Arthritis affects more than 50% of people over the age of 65.

In short, developing accessible digital products helps you reach a much larger audience, which will include you, your coworkers, and your family. Everyone is going to be situationally, temporarily, or contextually impaired at some point in their life. Everyone enters a noisy or dark environment that can make it hard to see or hear. An injury or illness may cause a person to temporarily use the Internet differently. People with arthritis, migraines and vertigo experience episodes of pain and discomfort that affect their ability to interact with digital devices, apps, and tools.

Additionally, no one ever advocated against Making products and websites reach as many people as possible. Despite this, the relative universal appeal of accessibility as a principle does not mean that it will be as simple as explaining the need and getting people on board to make major organizational changes. Much work remains to be done in sensitizing and educating people about this Why We need to make this change How to go about it.

Why do you have Now here are five things to help you with how you can make changes in your company by integrating accessibility as a core part of your business.

1. Tap on the right people to create an accessible experience

According to the second annual State of Accessibility Report, only 40% of the Alexa Top 100 websites are fully accessible, proving that the needs of people with disabilities are often overlooked when creating web experiences.

To design for people with disabilities, it is important to understand how they use your products or web properties. You will also want to know which tools will help them achieve the desired results. It starts with having the right people on board.

Hiring accessibility experts to advise your development team will proactively identify potential issues and ensure that you design accessible from the start, as well as build better products. Better yet, hiring people with disabilities brings a deeper understanding of your work.

2. Hire Accessible Designers

Having accessibility experts on your team to provide advice and guidance is a good start. However, if the rest of your team isn’t passionate about accessibility, it can turn into a potential roadblock. When interviewing new designers, ask about accessibility. It will assess the candidate’s knowledge and passion in the field. Also, you set an expectation that accessibility is a priority in your organization.

Being proactive about your hiring and making sure they contribute to a culture of accessibility and inclusion will save you major headaches. Accessibility starts at the Design and User Experience (UX) phase. If your team doesn’t get there, you’ll have to fix their mistakes later, inevitably delaying the project and costing your organization. It costs more to fix things than to make things easier in the first place.

3. Remember that Access is for Everyone

People deciding to invest in accessibility often ask themselves how many people are going to use this feature. The logic behind the question can be understood from a business point of view; Accessibility can be an expense, and spending money responsibly is well worth it.

However, the question lies in one of the biggest misconceptions in this field. The myth is that accessibility only benefits people who are blind or deaf. This belief is depressing because it greatly underestimates the number of people with disabilities and lowers their place in society. Furthermore, it fails to acknowledge that people who do not have a disability still benefit greatly from accessibility features.

Disability is a spectrum on which we will all sooner or later find ourselves. An injury may temporarily limit our mobility, which requires us to perform basic tasks like banking and shopping, especially online. Or maybe our vision and hearing change as we age, which affects our ability to interact online.

When we understand that accessibility is about designing in a way that engages as many people as possible, we can re-frame the conversation about whether it’s worth investing in. This approach sends a clear message: No business can ignore a rapidly growing population.

Think about it this way: If you had the option of taking the elevator or the stairs, which would you choose? Take up most of the elevator. Those ramps at street corners are called curb cuts? They were initially designed to allow wheelchairs to cross the road.

Still, many people use these ramps, with parents pushing strollers, passengers pulling luggage, skateboarders rolling over and workers carrying heavy loads on dolls. A feature initially designed for accessibility benefits far more people than the original target audience. This is the magic of the curb-cut effect.

4. Hire manufacturing agencies, accessible by default

Whether you have a small team or are expanding an in-house accessibility practice, working with an agency can be an effective way to build and adopt accessible practices. The secret to a successful partnership is choosing an agency that will help your team grow in its accessibility practice.

The key to finding the right agency is to choose an agency that manufactures by default. When you know you are working with an agency that shares the values ​​of your organization, you have a trusted partner in your mission to improve access. It also removes any guesswork or revisions down the line. This is a big win, as many designers overlook details that can make or break an experience for a disabled user.

Working with an agency focused on providing accessible experiences reduces the chance of errors that go unnoticed and gives you the confidence that you are providing an excellent experience for your entire audience.

5. Integrate Access into Your Supply Chain

On any given day, enterprises and large organizations often work with dozens of stakeholders. From vendors and agencies to freelancers and internal employees, the nature of business today is far-reaching and collaborative. While it is valuable to exchange ideas, access can be lost in the mix of many different people involved.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to align these dynamic pieces of business into a supply chain that focuses on access at each stage of the business. When each is fully purchased, it minimizes the risk of an ingredient becoming inaccessible and causing problems for you in the future.

startup profit

A major challenge that comes up time and again is the struggle to change the status quo. Once an organization implements and incorporates inaccessible processes and products into its culture, it is difficult to make meaningful change. Even though everyone is committed to change, the fact is that rewriting the way you do business is never easy.

Here’s an advantage startups have: They don’t keep inaccessible stuff for years. It is not written in the code of their products. It is not woven into the business culture. In many ways, a startup is a clean slate, and they need to learn from the trials of their more established peers.

Startup founders have the opportunity to build an accessible organization from the ground up. They can create an accessible-first culture that won’t need rewriting 10, 20 or 30 years from now, by employing a diverse workforce with a passion for accessibility, by writing accessible code for products and web assets, only for third parties. By choosing to work with those who embrace accessibility and advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities.

Many of these ideas have a common denominator: culture. While most people in the technology industry would agree that accessibility is an important and worthy reason to champion, there is a huge problem of awareness.

Access is needed everywhere in software development, from requirements and beyond to include marketing, sales and other non-technical teams. A niche concern cannot be left for a silent team to handle. If we, as an industry and as a society, recognize that accessibility is everyone’s Job, we will create a culture that will without question make it a priority.

By creating this culture, we will no longer be asking, “Do we have to make it accessible?” Instead, we’ll ask, “How can we make this accessible?” This is a major mindset shift that will make a real difference in the lives of the one billion people who are living with a disability and who will ultimately have a disability or a temporary, situational or contextual impairment that affects their ability to use online and digital products. affects.

Advocating for access can sometimes seem like an uphill battle, but it’s not rocket science. The biggest need is education and awareness.

When you understand the people for whom you create accessible products and why they need those products, it becomes easier to shop from people from all parts of your organization. Building this culture is the first step in the long quest for accessibility. And the best part is that it gets easier from here.

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