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A beginner's guide to digital accessibility

You're probably familiar with the concept of accessibility, which ensures that differently-abled people of all kinds can enjoy the same rights and conveniences as others. However, you may not have heard of digital accessibility. This helps to ensure that people have access to digital tools like websites. Considering that 22% of the total population in the United Kingdom has a disability, this is an increasingly important topic. Learn more about the importance of digital accessibility, what this means, and how to implement it below.

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Understand the importance of digital accessibility


Tech Target explains that it refers to the way digital environments and tools are designed to help people with disabilities, ensuring they can make use of these products or services. This could cover everything from an email server to an intranet. There are different types of digital accessibility, including visual, auditory, and motor accessibility. Visual accessibility accommodates people with low vision, blindness, or colour blindness. Auditory accessibility is for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Motor accessibility is for people with dexterity or coordination issues.


Look for ways to implement digital accessibility


Digital accessibility isn't just helpful for people who are differently abled. In some cases, it's a legal requirement. For example, the U.S. has website accessibility laws that apply to electronic and information technology. What can you do to improve digital accessibility? Say you have a website, for example, You can improve visual accessibility by using sufficient colour contrast. Another example is if you create videos for social media: Make sure to turn captions on for those who are hard of hearing. The University of California at Berkeley has additional pointers for how to improve digital accessibility.


Check out tools to support digital accessibility


There are also tools that can help enhance accessibility on digital devices. Communication Access Real-Time Translation is a great example. CART refers to tools and services that help deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals view digital content. CART services have been around since the early days of TV when closed captioning was introduced. As digital content has grown, CART has expanded. Now, seminars, conferences, and more are equipped with CART, expanding inclusion for the hard-of-hearing and deaf community. Using CART tools means meeting more consumers' needs and expanding your target audience.


Hire the experts to help with your accessibility needs


Sometimes, technology isn't enough. You may need to hire in-person translators or interpreters, for example, for conveying sign language. Look for locals in your area who can help. The Deaf Umbrella offers British Sign Language, BSL, interpreting services throughout London and the southeast of the area. Similarly, there are consultants who can advise on how to improve digital accessibility. If you're introducing a new tech tool, consider hiring one of these pros to help review it. They can provide guidance on how to expand accessibility and address any gaps.


Raise awareness about digital accessibility needs


It's great that you're willing to do your part to improve digital accessibility. If you want to go the extra mile, find ways to raise awareness about the issue and convince others to join you in your efforts. Start within your company. In your working world, follow best practices for raising disability awareness across your organisation, such as by hosting tutorials. You can also promote the cause to other businesses and engage in partnerships to raise awareness. The more people who understand the intricacies of digital accessibility, the better.


Digital accessibility is an increasingly important topic as more day-to-day activities are moved online. The above guide provides some pointers for how you can implement digital accessibility in your own life.



 


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