Making accommodations for people with disabilities is an important consideration for many organisations, facilities and services around the world. Wheelchair-accessible ramps for public buildings, the option for subtitles on videos or a sign-language interpreter, among other accommodations, allow people with disabilities to engage with the wider world without needing help from others. It only makes sense that we think about accessibility in technology.
Things like colour blindness, poor vision or outright blindness can make using a computer a difficult and stressful task. Hearing disorders, nervous system disorders, motor disorders and photosensitive epilepsy are all relatively common problems that people face, and as we move further into a world where using technology becomes unavoidable, we need to give people tools and accommodation to allow them to use it.
Photosensitive epilepsy is a potential hazard even among people with no prior history of epilepsy, and the tech industry responded mainly by providing guidelines on web content to reduce possible seizure triggers, such as limiting the ‘flash rate’ of web content to 3 flashes per second, unless it’s small enough to not apply.
Accessibility in web design has been a hot-button topic for a while: since 2015, over 240 US businesses have been sued over website accessibility. It’s not just a fear of litigation that motivates companies to make their websites accessible: around 253 million people around the world have vision impairment of some kind, with colour blindness being most common. That’s 253 million people who would’ve seen your website, but couldn’t because it isn’t accessible.
Accessibility is usually integrated into the operating system itself: things like a ‘virtual keyboard’ that can be operated by a mouse, text-to-speech or screen reader services, colour-blind options and so on, but many websites ignore these options when being developed.
As an example, many Ecommerce sites give the user a colour swatch to pick a colour for whatever they’re buying, but people with colour-blindness and its many variations will find it confusing without a text description of the colour; people with red-green colour blindness cannot perceive reds or greens, so many colours on a swatch will simply look brown to them. Simply having ‘Green’ or ‘Red’ under the relevant options can nip this problem in the bud.
Things like vision difficulties can be alleviated by supporting the accessibility options provided by OSes mentioned above, as well as using sans-serif, clear fonts with good contrast against the background. Hearing issues can be helped by providing captions or subtitles on your video. These solutions may present a design compromise, but it’s better to include everyone in your website than having the best-looking website that only some people can use.
Chetaru is a web design and development agency based in Darlington that is excited about building a better future with the latest technological and IT solutions available. Chetaru has the IT know-how that your firm needs to succeed and thrive, from beautiful responsive websites to economical SEO services and useful mobile app designs.