Improving your digital accessibility? Start with these 3 tips from Microsoft.

author

Delaney McDonald

January 12, 2022 | 2 min read

Digital accessibility has recently become a popular topic for organizations to promote, but why now? As more and more people work from home, it’s become an equalizer—everyone has to look at the same things, on the same size screens, during the same video calls. 

The accessibility spectrum covers cognitive and neurological disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD, autism, mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and much much more. Accessibility is a crucial topic as disabilities or impairments can touch and affect almost everyone.

  • 15% of the world’s population has some sort of disability (WHO). 
  • 217M people worldwide have a moderate to severe vision impairment (WHO).
  • In the U.S. there are about 56.7M people with a disability (Census Bureau).
  • 59.6% of the U.S. population with disabilities are living in a household with internet access (Statista).

Accessibility: The Why, What and how

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Getting started with digital accessibility

We recently discussed accessibility with Dona Sarkar, Director of Technology – Accessibility at Microsoft, on how organizations can get started with their accessibility journey. 

Design for the extremes.

When thinking about your website’s design, create for the extremes—not the best case scenarios. Not every user will have a great internet connection, be sitting at a desktop, and have no impairments or disabilities. Design for someone with a range of disabilities using a poor internet connection on their mobile device. If you design for the extremes, every experience will be better for everyone.

“As creators and designers, we want to showcase our creativity, but often the best way to be creative is to showcase your content in the most simple way possible so the maximum number of people can actually access that content.”  — Dona Sarkar, Director of Technology – Accessibility, Microsoft

Create with, not for.

When creating an inclusive design, work and consult with people with the disabilities you want to be inclusive of. It’s important to learn the limitations or barriers they might experience early in the design process, not at the end during the testing phase. 

“Don’t be afraid of saying the words ‘disability’ or ‘accessibility’.” — Dona Sarkar, Director of Technology – Accessibility, Microsoft 

There is no downside.

When making your site more accessible, there are no downsides. Improving accessibility means improving the experience for everyone—not just those with disabilities. 

And if that wasn’t enough, according to a recent Accenture survey, organizations that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experienced increased innovation, improved shareholder value, improved productivity, improved market share, and enhanced reputation. So, accessibility will not only improve your digital experience but also improve ROI.

Digital accessibility is here to stay.

Accessibility is not just a trend, it’s the key to widening your customer base, increasing customer experience, and improving your bottom line—what’s not to love? 

And as a bonus, here are three quick things you can do right now to improve your website’s accessibility.

  1. Add image descriptions or an alt-text to all images.
  2. Disable auto-play on all videos on your site.
  3. Reconsider your color contrasts.

Interested in learning more about accessibility? Download our free Digital Accessibility Handbook today to help you get started. This handbook will teach you about the impairments that affect people’s ability to use the web, provide actionable insights on creating better user experiences for all, and give you a handy checklist to ensure accessibility on your own website.

The accessibility guidelines you’ve been looking for!