In today’s increasingly wired world, accessibility is not just a nice-to-have feature but a fundamental necessity. Web accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing website content and technology so that it can be “accessed” – easily found and used – by individuals with disabilities. This concept is not only about compliance with legal requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) globally, but also about ensuring inclusivity and equal access.
According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people (about 15% of the global population) live with some form of disability. By making web content and technology accessible, we ensure that these individuals can participate fully in the Information Age, whether it’s accessing information, applying for jobs or engaging in online education.
Accessible content and services reach a broader audience. By neglecting accessibility, businesses exclude a significant portion of the population from their customer base and market calculations. When websites, apps, and tools are accessible, they become more user-friendly for everyone, leading to improved user experiences, increased customer loyalty, and increased baseline revenue.
Many countries have enacted laws and regulations that mandate web accessibility. Non-compliance with these laws can result in legal consequences and reputational damage for organizations. It’s not just about following the law, however, but instead is a matter of ethical responsibility. Ensuring that services and information are accessible is a reflection of a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Web accessibility often drives innovation. When developers and designers are challenged to make technology work for all users, they come up with creative solutions benefiting everyone. Voice recognition technology, for example, was initially developed for individuals with mobility impairments and has led to the widespread adoption of voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, benefiting in turn a wide range of extreme-fan users.
Improving accessibility always has economic advantages. Accessible websites and apps are more likely to convert visitors into customers, increasing revenue. Accessible web tools, furthermore, can enhance employee productivity and reduce training and support costs.
Accessibility isn’t only about organizations. It is also centered on individuals. For people with disabilities, accessible technology empowers them to lead more independent lives.
Accessibility to data and technology is important. Metadata makes data-based content findable. Findability, however, works only when a proper taxonomy is in place. Proper indexing against a strong standards-based taxonomy increases the findability of data. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ANSI/ISO/W3C-compliant taxonomies.
Melody K. Smith
Sponsored by Access Innovations, the intelligence and the technology behind world-class explainable AI solutions.