Most likely, we have all faced accessibility issues, or we might know someone who has. For instance, might have had trouble accessing a website because the browser or device was not compatible, or perhaps you might have heard of someone having difficulties using a mouse to navigate a document because of an arm injury, and we are all aware that, as we get older, we might need to zoom in on screens to read content clearly. These issues affect most of us at some point in life, but there are other scenarios that are less known to most, as we never had to go through them. Ignoring these needs means we are disregarding our users right for digital accessibility.
Digital Accessibility refers to the ability to access digital content (websites, documents, multimedia, etc.) for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. To be accessible, we need to adopt the international standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which consist of four guiding principles known by the acronym POUR: content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Users can identify content using their senses. For most users, this means perceiving things visually. For others it could also be by sound or touch.
Users can navigate the document. This usually involves using assistive technologies such as voice recognition, keyboards, or screen reader software.
Users can comprehend the content presented to them. It should be consistent in presentation and format, predictable in its usage patterns and design, and appropriate to the audience in its voice and tone.
Content must be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users, allowing them to choose the way they interact with it. Therefore, maximising compatibility with current and future users, including their preferred assistive technologies.
So, why should we start caring about this if we haven't already? It's true that lately, we have become more aware about accessibility and for good reason; we now understand that ESG and diversity, equity, and inclusion policies are critical for organisations to remain relevant in the corporate world. ESG ratings assess a company's non-financial performance, specifically its impact on the environment, people, and principles, providing an unbiased evaluation.
Regardless of corporate decisions, we all need to be aware that making sure the content we create caters to everyone's wide range of needs is our priority as teams and individuals in our aim to become more socially responsible and inclusive. While accessibility may require extra effort at times, sometimes there are little actions we can take, which would mean a lot to others, such as:
Make URLs and buttons descriptive
Instead of using default labels like "https://kpmg.com/xx/en/home.html", try editing them to indicate to users where they will be directed, for example, "KPMG's Global site". This is particularly crucial for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers. To understand the importance of this, try reading out loud the two links provided.
Font choice and size for body copy
Think of this one from the view of someone who is far-sighted or that is dyslexic. It is recommended to use sans serif fonts, like Arial or Calibri and that this is at least 12 or 14pts tall.
Avoid using colour alone to convey meaning on graphs or infographics
This can be especially challenging for colourblind users. Instead, use text, arrows, or patterns to differentiate categories.
There's so much we can do to promote and adopt accessibility as a mindset. These examples above are a good starting point in our journey to accessibility awareness.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.