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  • Cotopaxi Lyon

Embracing Digital Accessibility: A Call to Prioritize Inclusivity in Tech

May marks Global Accessibility Awareness month!

With Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) today, May 16th, we wanted to share with you the importance of GAAD and digital accessibility.

We’ll admit, shamefully, that our team didn’t know GAAD existed until very recently - which speaks to accessibility’s second class nature in the tech world.

What is digital accessibility?

Definition 1:

"Digital accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, digital tools and technologies, by people with disabilities." - Georgetown Law

You’ll notice, it emphasizes removing barriers rather than preventing them.

Words hold power, and this word choice itself shows us digital accessibilities’ second class nature.

In thinking about disability access, our team often comes back to a quote from Dr. Devon Price about disability. He states:

"Disability is not a bad word, because being disabled is not a shameful thing. We are not ‘differently abled’ —we are disabled, robbed of empowerment and agency in a world that is not built for us."

A world not built for us.

Even today, digital accessibility is often seen as an afterthought. Something to be added to “remove barriers”.

We reject this notion.

As the GAAD Foundation calls out, accessibility should be a core requirement of software development.

Let’s opt for a more fitting definition of digital accessibility.

Definition 2:

"Digital accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities/impairments to independently consume and/or interact with digital (e.g., web, mobile) applications and content."

This definition comes from the GAAD FoundationsGlobal Awareness Accessibility Day website and is more closely represents how we should all be thinking about digital accessibility.

Why does Digital Accessibility matter?

Technology is an integral aspect of all of our lives, and should be able to be used with ease by all.

For technology to do so it must take into account four disability categories that affect user experience:

  • Visual

  • Auditory

  • Motor

  • Cognitive

When we think of people with disabilities, we often think of those who use assistive technologies, but this overlooks a significant demographic of disabled users that don’t fall into that category. For example, cognitive & learning disabilities is as broad as it is varied. Overall we see that around 15% to 20% of humans worldwide require accessibility. That’s over 1 billion humans worldwide!

In designing software, it is integral to take into account a variety of user experiences, ensuring our products are accessible to all.

We love and support the GAAD foundation’s mission: “To disrupt the culture of technology and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement.”

How does Digital Accessibility affect us all?

Digital accessibility benefits more than humans with disabilities; it benefits anyone who is using technology. You are probably using assistive technologies and adaptive strategies that support web accessibility without realizing it!

As the disability community often calls out, creating disability inclusive spaces creates better experiences for all.

In diving deeply into digital accessibility and how we should best test for accessibility and advocate for accessibility, we’ve been shocked (but also unsurprised when we really think about it) that we utilize multiple adaptive strategies and assistive technologies on a daily basis without even realizing it.

Some of these we use out of convenience because it’s easier to ask Siri to play a song than it is to look through a music library. Then there are technologies such as speech to text extension, which we used to help write this blog. Several of us here at LyonQA use closed captions when we watch videos, and listen to podcasts or youtube videos at 1.25x speed. All examples of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies.

What do we do with this knowledge?

We value the opportunity that we have to educate our clients and community on the benefits of including accessibility testing in the software development process. Promoting legal and regulatory compliance, enhanced user experiences and organizational inclusivity.

As individuals we ask you to practice centering accessibility in your product designs, coding decisions, or as a user.

As a community we have the opportunity to celebrate GAAD and help us in bringing awareness to digital accessibility.

At LyonQA, we believe in inclusivity and improving the overall experience and quality of the software. We’ve seen through our personal experiences how digital accessibility is making our lives easier, but equally importantly, we value inclusion!


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