How to make tech more accessible for all?

Women looking at their phones

Article provided by Rebecca Rae-Evans, co-founder of Tech For Good Live

From banking to food shopping, many of our day-to-day tasks can now be completed online and generally this digital-by-default society is making people’s lives easier and more efficient.

In fact, a third of people have become so accustomed to accessing online services 24/7, from anywhere in the world, that they would feel “cut off” and “lost” without the Internet.

However, as it stands, there are still many people with varying abilities and conditions – from blindness to autism or dementia – that cannot use digital services due to poor design practices and confusing jargon. They are therefore ‘disabled’ by these platforms; as they are unable to access the information they require.

Despite some positive, inclusive design work being carried out across a variety of sectors, such as Network Rail’s implementation of a new accessible app, a recent Ofcom report suggests disabled individuals are being left behind by technology on the whole. This is due to deployment of alienating language and design features.

So what can be done to make the UK’s online services accessible to all?

  • Cater for those with physical or motor impairments – these online services need to minimise the amount of typing required from users. Also, they should make clickable interactive elements large without demanding precision, and design platforms with mobile and touch screen in mind.
  • Be mindful of visually impaired individuals – businesses should ensure websites use a readable font size and a combination of colour, shapes and text, while ensuring to publish all information on web pages as opposed to other document types such as PDFs.
  • Accommodate for autistic users – companies must use day-to-day language – avoiding figures of speech and idioms. They should create a simple colour scheme and make sure layouts are consistent and uncluttered.
  • Adapt services for customers that are hard of hearing – businesses must provide access to subtitles or transcripts to accompany videos, break up content with sub-headings, images and video and avoid complex layouts and menus.

People with ranging abilities should also be invited to take part in usability sessions throughout the design process. This will help businesses to assess how effective certain features are and will highlight areas that need to be improved or removed altogether.

Going forward, if businesses take these changes into consideration when developing their online presence and start implementing them as soon as possible, we can expect to see a dramatic improvement in digital inclusivity across the board.

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