What is Digital Accessibility and Why We Need It?

Have you ever wondered what is common between the popular R&B musician Stevie Wonder and the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking?

Both use some sort of assistive technology to access computers and to connect with the digital world.

Digital accessibility means that the information technology (IT) products have the flexibility to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This certainly affects users with disabilities to use and contribute to websites, mobile or web applications, softwares, and electronic documents. This is why Stevie Wonder and Stephen Hawking can access and contribute to web and electronic documents even when they have different needs and work in different situations.

But persons with disabilities is hardly the only group digital accessibility benefits. Users with slow internet connections, people with temporary disabilities, and elderly are also significant beneficiaries.

Digital accessibility then means that different IT products are designed according to good usability principles so that various user groups can interact effectively with them, not just users with disabilities.

Why Bother about Accessibility?

According to some estimates, one-in-five persons has some sort of disability that negatively affects interaction with computers. Do I need say that these computers today sit in our offices, homes, and even in our pockets that make our tasks at job and home simple? When one counts persons with permanent disabilities, people with temporary disabilities, and elderly in this group, it is quite conceivable that one-fifth of the total global population at any given time would be excluded from the benefits of this day-to-day uses of computers. Isn’t that indeed a large group?

Assistive Technology and better IT Product Design Reduces the Impact of Disability on Digital Accessibility.

Here’s how:

• Users with vision impairments can listen websites and electronic documents
• Users with low vision can enlarge their screen and text
• Users with color blindness can contrast their text and its background
• Users with hearing impairments can read transcripts of audio
• Users with motor disabilities can operate keyboards
• Users with cognitive disabilities can understand and focus better.

Whether these users are customers of business websites, veterans using government services, or students enrolled in courses with digital content, they have real needs that require solutions. They also have real purchasing power that would help your bottom-line. Make your websites and electronic documents accessible.

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