Have you noticed a change in your digital business recently? If you haven’t, chances are that the change is coming, sooner rather than later. According to Forbes, there is a huge shift in business thinking around diversity and inclusion to ensure that every website and application is accessible to all people. The COVID-19 Pandemic has further exacerbated the need for businesses to reach all available customers digitally. If you are not suitably prepared, it could have a detrimental impact on your business. Think this doesn’t apply to you? Simply put: it does.
Making your business accessible has many benefits which can help to strengthen or even grow your current market share. It can also help you to develop a positive brand image which attracts customers from all walks of life. Here at Passio, our core vision is to create technology that all people can benefit from. We hope that this post will help to start open and honest discussions around the topic of inclusion and accessibility. It also showcases how we can help you to reach all people with your business.
The size of the problem
For many years now, the Government and a range of major charities have been advocating for an inclusive society so that people with disabilities can lead a fulfilling life. However, many people and businesses still vastly underestimate the importance of including disabled people, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed.
A recent survey highlighted that a shocking 49% of disabled people feel excluded from society. This raises several questions:
- How many disabled people are there? 1 in 5 people are disabled in the U.K, or just over 14 million people, which is a staggering statistic;
- What is a disability? A disability can be defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial long-term effect on your ability to carry out daily tasks. This includes conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, Visual Impairments and Dementia. Disabilities are wide-ranging and almost all of us will experience a temporary disability in our lifetime.
It is likely that you, people in your family, people who work for or with you, as well as a large proportion of your customers will have to deal with the ramifications of having a disability. It is, therefore, essential that we do our utmost to be inclusive in all that we do.
The cost of disability
Currently, there are over 4 million disabled people in employment in the U.K, which is fantastic and a great step towards an inclusive society. However, there are nearly double that number of disabled people of working age who are not employed. This information, coupled with a recent study which has highlighted the astronomical cost of being disabled, demonstrates that there is a lack of equality in our society. This is reflected in the incredible fact that nearly half of the people living in poverty in the UK are disabled or living with a disabled person. This alienation from society is something that needs to be counteracted so that everyone can be included.
Technology should enable many disabled people to be a part of society, yet 73% of disabled people experience barriers on websites. How can the computer, the most versatile device on the planet, be so limiting for so many? Some reports suggest the lack of financial support, as well as a lack of awareness and basic skills has contributed to this huge problem where the computers and the internet still fail people. This has a direct impact on the economy as almost 75% of the UK’s disabled customers have walked away from a business because of poor customer service. That is a huge 10% of UK customers lost to businesses because of dissatisfaction with online accessibility. This dissatisfaction equates to an estimated cost of over £11 Billion in lost revenue. These are figures that need to be rectified as, for too long, the needs of disabled people have been overlooked.
We all need to change our mindset when it comes to disabilities. Instead of seeing a disability as a barrier, we should consider that all people are able to contribute in their own unique way. We should put in place strategies and systems that allow everyone the opportunity to showcase their potential. Furthermore, actively seeking to include people with disabilities can be advantageous for businesses which will then have a positive impact on society as a whole.
What can we do?
In order to include disabled people, we must enable everyone to access all parts of society. The best place to start is with the technology that we use on our computers and other devices. One of the main things that you can do to help your business to include everyone is to have disabled people at the heart of your design process. Here at Passio, that is exactly what we do. We work with you and your users throughout the design process to ensure you build the right solution and achieve your goals. By doing this, we have developed new, successful digital platforms that allow our clients to reach every available customer. We can also audit and improve your existing content as there are many other adaptations that can be made to your website to include everyone.
Why should you care?
It is clear that making these recommended changes not only enhances your business but also enhances your brand. The Purple Pound refers to the spending power of disabled households and it is estimated to be a massive £274 Billion in the UK and $13 Trillion worldwide. Many organisations are missing out on disabled people’s business due to poor accessibility. Businesses lose an estimated £2 billion per month in the UK by ignoring the needs of disabled people.
A staggering 97% of websites fail to comply with current guidelines around accessibility. Are you and your online content unintentionally inaccessible to disabled people? We can help. Investing in your online content can give you a competitive advantage. It increases your reach, adds to your brand credibility and shows consumers that you take corporate social responsibility seriously. Furthermore, by making changes to your website to support accessibility, you will enhance the experience for all users. You could even increase your website traffic and overall usability.
In order to incorporate disabled people into this process, you should use a co-design process. This means that you design with and not for disabled people. As a result, you get relevant and instant feedback throughout the process which ensures that your end product is fully functional and accessible to all. It also ensures that you have disabled people at the centre of your process. By designing your website in this way, you will create a better experience for everyone.
At Passio, we can check the accessibility and usability of your website as well as create new technology to help reach all of your potential customers. It is important to understand that people who are born disabled (or become disabled) should not have lesser opportunities than others in society. Abled people have a responsibility to remove barriers and create a more inclusive world for everyone. In order to achieve this, public interventions of better and higher quality are essential.
Where can you start?
This does not need to be a daunting, drastic overhaul or process. You can make several subtle changes that will have a positive impact on a large audience. By considering the senses your website appeals to, you can begin to understand your customers’ experience. What can they see? You could start with the text on your website. If you ensure that all content can be read by those who are Dyslexic, it will not have a negative effect on those who are not Dyslexic. However, it will help those who require reading glasses or have different levels of reading abilities. Therefore, a small change can help a wide range of people. If you then consider the other visuals, such as images, you can ensure that everyone can understand them. By using Alt-text, you will make the images accessible to those with visual impairments while not affecting those who do not have visual impairments.
We, at Passio, can guide you through each and every step of the process to ensure that you exceed the minimum requirements. If you work with us, you will not merely comply with regulations, you will be truly digitally accessible.
What are the regulations?
Abiding by regulations minimises financial and legal risk. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of websites that do not comply with the minimum standards has resulted in a huge increase in the number of lawsuits being filed against companies. Since the Equality Act came into effect in 2010, all website owners have a legal obligation to ensure their websites are accessible to all users, as it is illegal to treat those with disabilities less favourably. There are four main principles of accessibility:
- The information must be perceivable
- The interface must be operable
- The site must be understandable
- The content must be robust and reliably interpreted
Without any of these, all users will not be able to access your content. At first glance these principles can sound challenging and scary; but fear not! We can work with you to ensure that you understand why it is important that these principles are adhered to, and exceeded.
In 2018, accessibility became a regulatory requirement for public bodies. To meet these requirements public bodies who have an app or website must:
- Meet the 2.1 WCAG accessibility standard
- Publish an accessibility statement
This applies to both intranet and extranet content, which are both private internal networks. These are monitored by the Central Digital and Data Office.
What can you do?
If you already have a website, you can get an accessibility audit for WCAG 2.1 and an Accessibility statement. The audit will inform you of what changes are needed for your website to reach compliance. However, compliance will not guarantee that your website is fully accessible to a broad range of users, only that it meets the minimum criteria. We would recommend that you go further with us so that we can complete accessibility user-testing on your website or application. When we carry out an audit, we rigorously check every element of your website from different perspectives. We view it from your perspective, our perspective and, crucially, from the perspective of the targeted users. That allows us to actively find problems that are not obvious initially. This will ensure that you comply with the guidelines and highlights how you can exceed them. Our thorough auditing process leads naturally to carrying out user-testing.
Why is user-testing important?
We, at Passio, specialise in this area. We work daily with the disabled community to understand how we can better build technology so they can be included in society. We are a one-stop accessibility shop, driven by a desire to make the world more inclusive. We want everyone to use your digital services, with minimum friction, in order to boost your business. We will engage with a range of people with disabilities in order to conduct a thorough testing phase of your website. By doing so, you will showcase your corporate social responsibility and it will also highlight your commitment to truly appealing to all sections of society.
By carrying out this user-testing, you get an instant understanding of the problems that are faced by people with disabilities as they attempt to engage with your content. As we are a flexible, small company with a diverse staff who are attuned to the needs of all users, we are also able to adapt our processes along the way to ensure the best results for you and your clients.
As our society becomes more reliant on technology, it is essential that all the technology created is accessible to everyone who needs, and wants, to use it. At present, that is not happening and it is mostly affecting disabled people. This has a detrimental impact on the isolated disabled community, as well as the economy. In order to rectify these issues, we can audit your existing content to ensure that it complies with the current guidelines or you can choose to go further. You can work with us, at Passio, so that we can build technology that puts your users at the heart of the design process. By doing this, you will reap the benefits of having accessible content as you will have more traffic to your site and, as a result, your business will grow. You will also show an exemplary commitment to corporate social responsibility which will develop your standing within your field of expertise.