Accessibility in tech is a broad concept that centers around making services equally accessible to people living with disabilities. Unfortunately, most modern websites simply aren’t up to scratch; statistics reported by CNET estimate that 98% of US-based websites are not fully accessible to W3 standards. This could be set to change. Tech giants – Google, Apple, and Facebook included – have signaled their intent to start rectifying the digital divide as it concerns accessible tools. This next big step may be in the form of a new, all-encompassing digital standard – with the influence to back it up.
There is a set of simple principles that defines what makes a website or online store accessible. These are summed up in the WCAG principle, which covers hearing, sight, mobility, and cognitive impairment adaptations. Matching this standard will mean a website is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, and therefore suitable for users from a broad range of backgrounds. Social media in particular has been quick to get on board with these principles; as the Washington Post observed, disability-focused adaptations to the user experience have improved hugely in recent years. However, there is always more that can be done.
Some technological changes are small but can have a profound benefit to users and the host services. A great recent example of this is TikTok, which has finally added audio captions to enable accessibility for those that are hard of hearing. With huge and influential platforms like TikTok heavily involved with these changes, this bodes well for accessibility across all of the social media and beyond. Indeed, with so much marketing and customer engagement focused through tech platforms in social media, there’s a clear drive forward from tech companies to get together and ensure that they are meeting a standard that provides for every single user of their service – and this is having benefits beyond the act of ensuring that services reach every demographic.
A forward drive
What these accessibility modifications improve are all-user services. While they are designed for use by those who need accessibility changes in order to access a service at its most basic level, it has a knock-on effect by improving the amount of flexibility that users can have with the service outside of that demographic. According to a TechCrunch analysis, building a truly accessible service, whether that be through a website or hardware, gives existing and new users who are otherwise able to use the service more opportunities to engage with the brand. That’s only a good thing, and it’s why Google is putting a lot of weight into fully accessible web pages within their hallowed algorithm.
With that algorithm behind much of the marketing and service found on the web today, that should be enough of a compelling reason in itself. Aside from being ethical, and, accessible tech service is, in fact, providing a better service than its competitors to every single consumer of their product. In terms of brand loyalty, customer retention, and growth, that’s only going to be good news.