The last several years have seen the rise of powerful social justice movements—#metoo, Black Lives Matter and #StopAsianHate—and a growing awareness of the perspectives of LGBTQ and BIPOC communities. The conversation has evolved from Equal Opportunity to Equity and Inclusion.
Though much of the dialogue around these issues happens online, only recently has the conversation included how to make the online experience itself more inclusive and accessible as well.
Inclusion is a basic human right. And businesses already must meet minimum inclusion and accessibility requirements, such as avoiding discrimination in hiring and employment practices and making buildings wheelchair accessible. Soon we’ll be required to ensure our online presences—and specifically our websites—are inclusive as well.
Now is the time to place Digital Accessibility at the top of your priorities. In this post, we’ll touch on what Digital Accessibility means and how to keep up with this emerging field.
What Does Digital Accessibility Mean?
You connect with your customers in a variety of ways and most often the internet is the primary and quickest option for your consumers to get important information from you. Imagine going to a website and it doesn’t load. You probably leave, right? Now put yourself in someone else’s shoes. What if you were blind and using a screen reader to read a page, but the content was being read out of order? Or all you heard was “read more,” “read more,” “read more,” and you had no idea what you were supposed to “read more” about?
Current user experience best practices focus on the majority but often forget about the rest of users. Recently, digital accessibility laws have been implemented to begin the process of digital inclusion to ensure everyone has equal opportunity and access to important information. However, even if you aren’t required by law to follow digital accessibility best practices, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. As society evolves to become more accepting of people in all forms, the internet is at the forefront of reflecting that change. It’s smarter to prepare for your future now rather than play catch up when accessibility regulations catch up with your business. Plus, by not being digitally inclusive, you could be unintentionally turning away some customers without even knowing it.
How Do I Make My Brand Digitally Accessible?
The quick answer is, there is no quick answer. It takes accessibility experts in design and development to analyze your current status and help you create a path forward to inclusion. The basic standards we follow are government regulated rules for things like color contrast, font sizes, form functionality, link treatments and behavior, and semantic structure of your pages.
This is just the surface level introduction into what accessibility entails, though. It is important to make sure that not only your website but also anything else you put online is easily digestible. This includes social media posts, emails, display ads and more.
The reality is that there is more than one way to do pretty much everything, and that includes using the internet. Some people use screen readers, some people use voice commands, some people use braille keyboards. The options for how to digest content are not as straightforward as we’ve assumed them to be. Digital accessibility changes the way we approach and present our brand’s content online.
Is Accessibility A One Time Thing?
No, for two reasons. First, digital accessibility is still a fairly new concept. The laws are evolving as the communities they serve give feedback and the technology to support them advances.
Second, most businesses continuously add new content to their websites, send marketing emails, post on social media, and so on. Accessibility needs to be a continuous effort as well. It is important that all people who manage your digital content are trained in digital accessibility best practices. If not, you want to make sure you have accessibility experts do ongoing audits of your material to help you be proactive, or at the very least reactive, about keeping your brand’s digital presence accessible to everyone.
Building Accessible Brands with Roger That
Since our founding, Roger That has worked exclusively with people who are in the business of doing good. This includes our team. To that end we make sure we are all trained on web accessibility, which means our designers, developers, and copywriters bring a more dynamic approach to creating and enhancing brands—online and off—for our clients.