With technology touching almost every aspect of our lives, digital accessibility should no longer be an afterthought or added feature to your software development. Inclusivity in the digital environment should mean that websites, applications, and digital technologies are accessible to people of all abilities, including those users with physical or cognitive impairments. Your company’s software, tools, and technologies should all be designed and developed so people with impairments can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact within the digital space equally.
If your company is not meeting these standards, you could be alienating an entire audience, which impacts your bottom line and affects the perception of your brand negatively. And while you might be meeting WCAG compliance, it’s important to recognize that these standards are a starting point for accessibility and the focus should be on overall usability, not mere compliance. We have considered the most common mistakes companies are making today regarding digital accessibility. They are as follows:
1. Thinking Accessibility is Optional
Digital accessibility is not optional. Companies that don’t prioritize accessibility as part of their development and testing strategies will get left behind. Accessibility is quickly shifting toward a legal requirement throughout the world, is becoming a requirement to win business, and it’s helping give businesses a competitive edge.
2. Thinking Tools & Automation Can Do Everything
They can’t. The efficacy rate of tools is typically 30-40%, with some tools claiming around 50%, but many of the WCAG requirements are subjective and require manual accessibility assessment. Companies that are solely reliant on a technology-based strategy will have gaps in software performance and failures in user experiences.
3. Thinking Overlay Tools are Good
They aren’t. Overlay tools do little to improve accessibility and, in some cases, make properties less accessible. The accessibility community has been vocal about failures in overlay tools and the need for better performance. Leveraging these tools will not lead to success and can negatively affect your brand and your business. It is also worth noting that some companies have used overlay tools, been sued for an inaccessible website, and lost.
4. Thinking Compliance is Enough
Guidelines are great in that they provide a common path toward accessibility. Still, they are constantly evolving based on new technologies, new ways of using technology, and our understanding of digital accessibility. To be truly accessible requires using the standards to build a foundation first and then looking at overall usability from an assistive technology user’s perspective to enable better performance.
5. Not Including Individuals with Impairments
This may be the costliest mistake a business can make regarding digital accessibility. You will not have a fully accessible product unless you include the individuals who benefit most from accessible design. That means including the design teams, the development teams, the testing teams, and the product teams. A good accessibility approach should also create a way for users to get in touch if they have feedback or issues. You can only know what’s most accessible by listening and collaborating with the lived experiences of individuals with physical or cognitive impairments.
6. Not Recognizing the Business Benefits of Accessibility
Many businesses approach accessibility as a necessary but time-consuming and extraneous challenge. But what they are not seeing is that accessibility is a remarkable benefit and opportunity for the business. Digital accessibility reaches a new market. According to W3, US annual discretionary spending of people with disabilities is over $200 billion, and the global disability market is estimated at $7 trillion. Accessibility can also be a gateway to business with other companies and can provide differentiation while boosting the perception and awareness of your brand.
7. Not Planning for Sustainable Accessibility
More and more companies are making a substantial effort in audits and analysis for current accessibility issues but often fail to see the bigger picture and recognize how they got to the state in the first place. For companies to continue being accessible, they need to incorporate accessibility into their existing teams at all stages of the software development lifecycle. They need to ensure teams are adequately trained, have the right tools, have the right processes, and have the right support.
8. Thinking You Can Do It Yourself
Like any new area of specialization, there can be a steep learning curve to digital accessibility. Most often, it is best to get expert support and guidance when ramping up your company on accessibility rather than attempting to do it yourself. Partnering with an expert to implement an effective accessibility program will almost always save you time and money and give you peace of mind that the strategy is right. It is also important to ensure you have internal capabilities within your existing teams, even if you continue to leverage an external partner for accessibility work. This approach is essential for sustainability.
9. Not Having an Accessibility Statement
Your digital accessibility statement communicates to users the status of your accessibility compliance, what technologies are supported, known issues, and most importantly, how users experiencing difficulties can get in touch. Providing a support path for accessibility is crucial to a good customer experience within the accessibility context.
10. Not Starting Today
There is always a place to start with accessibility and the time is now. Companies can access and begin using the WAVE tool by W3, allowing you to run a quick scan and start fixing issues immediately. You can also sign your team up for training and get an audit from a third-party auditor. Of course, nothing is perfect, but progress is good, and companies can start taking on accessibility now with a relatively low-cost upfront and big benefits to your business.
QualityLogic can help guide you on your path to digital accessibility. Contact us today to get started.