This week marks International Day of People with Disability (IDPD), originally created by the United Nations and designed to bring awareness and celebrate the diversity of the global community. This years’ theme is ‘not all disabilities are visible’ and this year more than ever we should consider how accessible things are many of us take for granted,
are to others in society.
After our research sessions at SimpleUsability moved to become 100% remote this year, my colleagues reconsidered how they could improve the way we recruit participants with a variety of needs and digital skill sets. In turn, we have been working with large UK organisations by providing research into the experiences of those with disabilities and additional needs. We are now calling on other businesses to consider how inclusive customer touch points such as websites, direct mail and emails are, to all types of customers.
A study by WebAIM in 2019, discovered 97.8% of the top one million websites failed to comply with web content accessibility guidelines. This leaves millions of people unable to properly access and understand a website and the ramifications of this are not limited to just shopping online. Being able to access information or services online can be a lifeline to those most in need. A study commissioned by CDS, which acquired SimpleUsability in October 2020, revealed 82% of customers with access needs would spend more if websites were more accessible.
Sharing my own experiences helped our team and our clients do more to help those with accessibility needs. For example, I often need people to look at me when they speak and if someone talks into my ear in a crowded environment, I won’t be able to hear them. This can even make video calls tricky if the person’s image isn’t clear on screen, or when fearing a face mask as we have all had to do this year.
I want to raise awareness of days like IDPD to show the importance of accessibility in all aspects of business, but it should naturally filter through in our everyday lives too. I hope by sharing my experience and improving our work in this area it helps people consider how tricky it can be just to function in everyday society when you have additional needs of any kind.
If businesses are planning for 2021 I urge them to adopt an inclusive approach and this means putting the needs of your audience at the heart of everything you do.
We’ve created a manifesto, to help businesses learn ways in which they can ensure accessibility is at the forefront of any activity. The manifesto can be accessed at: https://www.simpleusability.com/inspiration/2020/09/manifesto-8-reasons-why-accessibility-matters-more-than-ever/.
It’s just not acceptable for accessibility to continue to be an afterthought, when 14 million UK residents are classed as disabled, with many more with varying needs that affect how they interact with organisations. My best advice is to remember that people, including those with the same disability, may have varying experiences that are not similar to yours. The more we remember this, the brighter the future will be for all of us.