The rapid shift towards a hybrid workplace meant also an acceleration of the consumption of digital content. Even though online means global reach, part of the world’s population cannot access it due to various types of disabilities. In his Devoxx UK keynote talk, Julien Dubois presented a set of best practices and design principles that would make the software more accessible.
Julien Dubois: 15% of the world’s population, that’s more than 1 billion people, have accessibility issues” Julien, meaning that some of us are less lucky than the others.
Starting from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Design Principles:
Dubois compiled a decalog of practices that would allow software development professionals to build software more accessible for everybody, regardless of their condition. By adapting the tooling and processes that we currently have, one can easily tweak the development chain to also include accessibility checks and tweaking.
By giving accessibility the well deserved attention, we help improve the way people with disabilities interact with our software and contribute to the improvement of their quality of life
Because we’re living longer, our focus is starting to shift toward improving our quality of life
as Bill Gates stated.
As a first phase, businesses need to adapt and plan for accessibility. By defining what accessibility means for their domain and by allocating the needed resources to move in this direction (points 1 and 2 of the decalog). Further, by using personas a concrete audience is targeted, allowing to test with one but reach all (points 3 and 4).
Adapting the existing knowledge and processes of the software industry, one can iterate and thread in the accessibility in smaller steps, rather than leaving it to the last phase of the development (points 5 and 6). As with many of the things in software development, accessibility can be also verified, hence tooling can be used to validate whether an appropriate level was achieved.
Currently accessibility insights provides tooling for checking various conditions for Android, Windows and Web. And, as most of the other code verifiers, they can be integrated in the pipeline (points 7 and 8). Even though this laundry list for developers, coding with accessibility in mind is actually an opportunity to innovate more and also to train yourself (points 9 and 10).
But leaving aside ethical and the fairness aspects of introducing accessibility in the fiber of the software that we build, it is easy to see the opportunity of business to tap into more capital sources: In the UK alone, the #PurplePound – the spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth a staggering £274 billion and is estimated to be rising by 14% per year, yet less than 10% of organizations have a targeted plan to access the disability market.