A common myth about web accessibility is that it “Only helps visually impaired”. It’s one we hear again and again. We only want to test with screen readers.
This approach of building accessibility and inclusion for only one group at a times, is not really practical.
Let me share how I see it with a very real world example. Let’s take the example of an elevator which will be used by lots of different people with diverse needs. Imagine if we went with only one disability at a time, when we thought of accessibility. Let’s look at the needs one at a time:
- For the Visually Impaired – we can put braille labels and auditory sound to announce the floors. But now how would someone who can’t hear or can’t read braille manage.
- For the Deaf and Hearing impaired – we can have an indicator with the floor, but how does a visually impaired know the floor.
- For the Mobility Impaired – if the indicators are so high, that a person on a wheelchair can’t reach, wouldn’t they have a problem.
Now imagine, we went about implementing these suggestions, one at a time rather than looking at them holistically. What do you think would make sense? Let’s look at it holistically right.
That is kind of like building for the web. Whether it is that you are building a website or a mobile app, you don’t know who is going to come and use your website or mobile app. Do you really want to build separate or solutions only for one group of people?
Web Content Accessibility Guideline by the W3C actually considers the needs of users with diverse needs including:
Believe me, you would rather invest in making your website accessible to all groups rather than only one group in this day and age where we have users who are using speech recognition, apps that read out, eye tracking, touch devices.
One group that is always ignored on the web is the deaf and hearing impaired. Now think of how many times have you watched a video with captions and you might not be hearing impaired.
The benefits of accessibility go way beyond the visually impaired and even in that beyond the screen reader users. There are users who use magnification, larger text size, braille, and so much more.