Did you know that people with some kind of disability constitute about 1 billion of the population? Today is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and I would like to share some useful resources with you.
According to Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament accessibility
should be understood as principles and techniques to be observed when designing, constructing, maintaining, and updating websites and mobile applications in order to make them more accessible to users, in particular persons with disabilities.
You, as a software developer, may come across many disabilities, when thinking about potential users of your product:
- vision impairment
- deaf or hard of hearing
- autism spectrum disorder
- physical disability
- cognitive impairment
- mental health conditions
- intellectual disability or acquired brain injury
This year on Polish track of A4Q World Congress Radek Smilgin, in his presentation Accessibility for all platforms and all people, mentioned that everybody was / is / will be "disabled". He evokes the example of an aging society - in 20 or 30 years our eyesight will deteriorate, our motor skills will no longer be fully functional, etc. If we all accept that at some point in our lives we will be disabled, our perception on the matter changes. Disability is no longer personal health condition, but mismatched human interaction with their environment or various interfaces. Designing our products for inclusivity not only opens up to more people with a wider range of abilities. It also means more potential clients for the product and in effect bigger return of investments.
After going through ischemic stroke of the left side of my brain in 2015, which caused temporary loss of speech and the paralysis of the right side of my body, I am one of these 1 billion people. I was 27 then, so thanks to the relatively young age, I mostly recovered. My motor skills however worsen in compare to times before-the-stroke, e.g. using a computer mouse with my right hand became very frustrating, with frequent tremors of my fingers, causing many unnecessary clicks. I learned to operate the mouse (or the touchpad in my laptop) with my left hand. Also, the Tab key was my new best friend. It's sad, that before the time of my own incapacity, I did not pay that much attention to accessibility.
But what can you do to include everyone in your application? According to Microsoft inclusive design principles you have to:
- Recognize exclusion
- Solve for one, extend to many
- Learn from diversity
If you would like to learn more about the accessibility, here are some additional resources:
- Accessibility for beginners with Elizabeth Fiennes (you will have to create a free account on Ministry of Testing, worth it!)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.1
- POURing Over Your Website: An Introduction to Digital Accessibility a TED Talk by Ashleigh Lodge at TEDxWinnipeg
- a11y project checklist that will help improve the experience for everyone who uses your site
- guidelines that can be applied to non-web Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) specifically to non-web documents and software