The idea that the internet reached 4.5B people in 2019 is insane. According to internetworldstats.com, 58.8% of the world population is online. But how much of the internet is actually for everyone? A study from Perrill (formerly first scribe), shows that only 1% of websites and web apps are ADA compliant. Investing in UI/UX is a great deal for anybody building a website/app, but always think of all users, not just the majority of users.
Most developers want to build an app that will get a lot of attention, be the next startup to make it big, but usually don’t stop to think that their website/app has to be accessible to everyone. The rules for building a website that is accessible for all may be difficult at first, time-consuming and even expensive, but the outcome could be positive for all users.
I could give one example that comes to mind. The YouTube player that has captions (auto-generated or not), for users that have a hearing impairment. For me is just a great way of watching a video in a public place or somewhere I can't turn sound on. This is one feature that I have used many times in the past.
For those of you that would like to get some insight on how the blind use technology to see the world, check out this Ted Talk from TEDxPhiladelphia, with Austin Seraphin. The talk has some humour exposing the difficulties of a guy that was born blind, and his day to day life.
Just to be clear, I don’t have any accessibility needs, the first time I came across a screen reader was when I was called to fix a computer, and the person was blind. I was the IT guy that was working some extra hours and came across this amazing gentleman, that got blind around the age of 50, and had to re-learn how to do basic chores for himself.
As a new software developer, I have been researching ways to improve my apps to make them accessible for everyone. For starters, check out the How to Meet WCAG(Quick Reference).
WCAG Wikipedia definition:
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Internet. They are a set of recommendations for making Web content more accessible, primarily for people with disabilities—but also for all user agents, including highly limited devices, such as mobile phones. WCAG 2.0, was published in December 2008 and became an ISO standard, ISO/IEC 40500:2012 in October 2012. WCAG 2.1 became a W3C Recommendation in June 2018.
When we talk about accessibility, don’t think only about people with disabilities, think globally. Many mobile apps have restrictions on the OS version, many times not being necessary at all. Many companies try to use as many resources as possible from phones to “improve ads”, like location, connection, screen resolution, and other features. What about people that have an older phone, or a smart phone with low resources?
When thinking UX/UI, think about the meaning of the first letter in those acronyms, USER. The main point is to have as many people to use and enjoy your creation, so make it as easy as possible for everyone. Want to test out your app, ask an elderly person(poor grandma) to use it and give you some feedback. Research as much as possible on how to improve your app, and even if you don’t launch it with full accessibility, make it a priority for the next release.