Nowadays, I had a discussion with someone who is working in the design field and I’ve realized that is not taken into consideration when it comes to start creating user profiles and personas, wireframes, and even the final UI. This is not happening from ignorance, but from not taking into consideration the fact that are some users that haven’t the capabilities of navigating through an application or website like the majority. So, in the next rows, I will explain a little bit what is and why it is so to take it into consideration while creating a product.

What is accessibility?

The expansion of the User Experience concept brings with it new, but old, other concepts related to this which will help the company to offer to its users a more needs focused experience and a pleasant navigation through the product. One of the most important concepts that evolved, is accessibility. But what accessibility actually means? According to W3C, accessibility “means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can: perceive, understand, navigate, interact with the Web and contribute to the Web.” Through Web access is an umbrella term in which are encompassed all the disabilities that can affect the navigation on Web auditory, cognitive motor, neurological, speech and visual.

Accessibility facts

Nowadays, 1/5 of the population of the Earth has a disability and struggle to have access to the same services and products like people without disabilities have. Sometimes, the copywriters, designers, and developers are creating barriers for those people, by having the aesthetic factor in their mind, rather than accessibility. In the United States of America, for example, The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is helping people with disabilities to fight with the system and to trigger an alarm signal about the fact that they are there, and they need to have an experience that responds to their needs while using a Web product. Many of the actual Websites still not have assistive technologies for the blind or hearing-impaired, that’s being the reason for the fact that right now, the most common Web accessibility lawsuits are against those two problems.

From the development perspective, a couple of years ago (2008), was created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines — or WCAG for short (for more information about it, you can access the W3C website and search for WCAG 2.0), that guide you on what technologies, code, tools to add to create the Web products more accessible. This guideline is internationally recognized and has as principles the following perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. The WCAG 2.0 is organized in three different levels:

  • Level A: the most basic Web accessibility features;
  • Level AA: the most common barriers for disabled people;
  • Level AAA: the highest level of accessibility.

Even level A is just the beginning, and the level AA embraced on large companies’ websites, the level AAA is the one to which is hoping that someday all the Web products will go. For reaching those, it’s very important to have empathy for your users, they need to have excellent experiences on Web, too.

For more information, you can watch this video

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