How Did I Get Started?
I began learning about accessibility as part of the first digital project I worked on. I found the subject fascinating and decided to keep on learning as my small way of making the world a little better for people. One of the main things that struck me, in the beginning, was that a lot of the things I was learning I sort of already knew, I’d just not invested any time really thinking about it. So in this article, I want to highlight some facts that you probably already know but maybe, like me, you haven’t thought too much about them.
In this post:
- Accessibility Facts
- What is Purple Pound?
- Importance of Choice
- Helping Your Future Self
- Websites with Great Accessibilities
- If Blind People Can See
- Getting Started with Accessibility
Accessibility Facts: How Many People Does Accessibility Affect?
There is a popular saying that accessibility is good for everyone. But I like to add that, while true, digital accessibility is vital to some people to enable them to do things we just take for granted.
There are many ways you can highlight those who will benefit from improved web access. We The 15 says there are 1.2 Billion people with disabilities on the planet or around 15%. Other sources say it is somewhere between 10 and 12%. Whatever the actual number is, it is a lot of people but, they do not always count intermittent disabilities. Those people with depression or being temporarily disabled through illness or injury.
The LinkedIn post below in references by Sheri highlights intermittent disabilities and includes a link to someone being discriminated against because of a serious allergy.
What is the Purple Pound?
The website defines the Purple Pound We are Purple as; “The Purple Pound refers to the spending power of disabled households. A disabled household is a household in which at least one of the members has a disability.”
Businesses massively underestimate how much revenue they are potentially missing out on by not making their sites accessible. Globally the Purple Pound is worth $13 Trillion Dollars (source Kaleidoscope Group). We are all familiar with finding websites annoying and either giving up or moving on to somewhere else. That is entirely our choice but if someone is unable to complete an action or task needed
Why is Choice So Important?
What works for one group might not for others so the choice is the key to great accessibility. Let’s take dark and light modes as an example. When apps and websites first began to adopt the option of a dark mode it was hailed as a step forward for accessibility. What many didn’t really think about was those sites that swapped to dark mode only were actually swapping one group of visitors for another. For every person who benefits from being able to switch to dark mode, there is another person who needs a lighter mode. As an example, this article from medium quotes 47% of people in the UK have astigmatism which means dark mode is very problematic for them.
How Can You Help Your Future Self?
It is generally understood that only 6 to 8% of people are born with a disability and as the largest minority group in the world it is a group that you can join at any point in time. It is also more likely that the older you get, the more likely you are to develop a disability. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “More than 46 percent of older persons – those aged 60 years and over—have disabilities, and more than 250 million older people experience moderate to severe disability.”
Statistics in age longevity have been trending up for many decades so as a population we are getting a higher percentage of people over 60 years old. This means we are also getting a higher number of people with age-related disabilities. By considering accessibility throughout a project as well as helping people now, you could well be helping your future self.
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Are There Any Websites That Have Great Accessibility?
Nearly every site and app has an issue. The WebAIM million is an annual survey of the web’s top 1 million websites’ home pages. Their sample is taken from the Majestic Millions list, the Alexa Top 1,000,000 websites, and the DomCop top 10 million domains. Their findings may shock you when you start to work through their findings. A few highlights that jump out at you are;
- The average number of issues found per page is over 50
- Each survey has found 97% of the pages checked have issues, yes, 97%
- Low contrast, the difference in color and shade between elements such as background and text, has been the top issue in all 4 surveys
So the answer to the question is yes, there are sites that have great accessibility for the disabled, but they are very few in number.
Can Blind People See and Do Only Blind People Need to Hear a Text?
Screen readers are not just for the registered blind and not all those who are registered blind have zero vision. According to research by the Perkins School for the Blind, only around 10 to 15% of blind people have no sight at all. Some can see shapes or colors or varying degrees of light. To be registered blind vision has to be severely restricted and is legally defined as “a person can be registered as blind if they are ‘so blind that they cannot do any work for which eyesight is essential. (National Assistance Act 1948).
For those people who need screen readers or text-to-speech technology, a lack of vision is only one of the reasons they might be used. Other reasons people might want to hear text include just preferring listening to reading. Not having the language they are reading as their first language. People learn to speak second languages faster than reading or writing, so they would like to hear them. For certain neurological conditions such as dyslexia, hearing text can be a preferred option.
Accessibility Testing: Getting Started with Learning Accessibility?
All the accessibility facts you need are free and available about the WCAG, VPATs, and tools to get started. Below is a list of great places to get started.
Here is a list of simple tests every tester should know.
W3 which curate the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide free training.
webAIM or Web Accessibility in Mind provides both the WAVE, Web Evaluation Tool, and NVDA, Non-Visual Desktop Access for free and has lots of articles to learn from. They also do paid training if you want it.
Deque has a great blog with lots of interesting posts on all things accessibility and you can learn a lot.
I would also recommend looking for web accessibility specialists to follow on socials or connect with on LinkedIn.