In our blogs, we often speak about how recent years have seen major leaps in assistive technology, from embedded accessibility in our mobile phones, to the importance of adding contextual information to images via alt text, to following the Web Content Accessibility 2.1 Guidelines.
What we haven’t discussed previously is just how much this benefits everyone, not just people with disabilities. Universal design and adhering to the POUR principles allows a website, mobile application, and digital document to be more user friendly and provide a better user experience for all.
Captions and Audio Description
How many of us have found ourselves doing housework and watching the latest episode of our favourite TV show at the same time? That is most probably all of us, but between cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids, it can be hard to focus on what is happening on the TV.
Next time you are watching with the captions on because the kids are swinging from the chandeliers and you can’t hear your show, or when you have gotten through the seventh stack of ironing with audio descriptions on to hear everything that was happening, remember to thank accessibility.
Traffic light/crosswalk indicators
Traffic light APS (Accessible Pedestrian Crossing) emits a sound to indicate when it is safe to walk across the road. This was designed to help people who are visually impaired to safely navigate around towns and cities, but I know myself that when light is shining directly on traffic lights, I can’t always tell when it is safe to cross, so I too benefit from these indicators. Thank you, accessibility!
Screen readers and magnification tools
Screen reading tools have made the world wide web more accessible for people who are blind and visually impaired, but this technology has also been integrated into TVs, web browsers, and a myriad of other platforms. This also helps people with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other cognitive issues to read digital content.
Magnification software and the ability to change font size was also initially designed to help people with low vision, but is now used by nearly everyone. We all change our text size and zoom at different points throughout the day to help reduce eye fatigue and make presentations easier to display.
Audiobooks have been around for decades; they were conceived to allow people with sight loss or cognitive issues to access the same educational and leisure materials that the rest of us enjoy. We all know someone who has said they would never listen to audiobooks – until they tried them and became their biggest advocates because of the convenience. Who thought they would be enjoying Sense and Sensibility in their car or Harry Potter while out jogging? Thank you, accessibility.
An accessible, universally-designed website is a great experience for all
In IA Labs blogs, we have discussed the importance of UI/UX design before. When designers understand the end user needs of people with disabilities, this doesn’t just improve projects for these individuals, but for everyone. IA Labs are always happy to lend a hand and discuss any questions you may have on making the digital world more accessible.