In today’s digital-by-default society, inclusive design has never been more important. From healthcare to food delivery, many of our regular, day-to-day tasks are now completed online. Overall, this makes people’s lives easier and more efficient. However, those with ranging abilities are often left out; unable to use these platforms (and therefore access the services and information they need) due to poor design practices.
It’s a particularly relevant issue following news of a landmark case won against Domino’s Pizza – which must now take steps to ensure its mobile app is fully accessible to all. Similarly, a lawsuit was recently brought against Beyoncé’s official website, stating that it was inaccessible to people with visual impairments.
Whilst both of these examples highlight a specific problem relating to sight, there is a vast number of ranging conditions that must be accounted for when designing for digital platforms.
The commercial benefits of inclusive design are obvious. It is estimated that thousands of businesses could be turning away the custom of as many as one in five people by being inaccessible to people of ranging abilities; a loss of up to £11.4 billion.
Brands must remember that the ‘purple pound’ doesn’t just refer to the spending power of those with disabilities. It also counts friends, family and carers – all of whom can’t (or won’t) use the service of a company that excludes people with impairments. As such, retailers that proactively make themselves open to all can expect to gain in traffic, profits and even brand reputation.
Perhaps most importantly, accessibility is incredibly important to everyday quality of life for the 13.9 million people in the UK who have a form of condition. Inclusivity is therefore not just a commercial obligation, but a moral imperative.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that inclusionnot only applies to the organisation’s audience and service users, but also to its employees. Nationally, 10% of working adults are without essential digital skills like communication and information management. Inclusion therefore extends to making digital products and apps user-friendly and inclusive to those working for businesses, as well as those using them.
All customer-facing businesses must meet the accessibility standards outlined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, however, in reality, it’s about more than that.
Retrofitting accessible features to try and make websites, apps or other digital platforms fit for purpose is often not enough; companies must go back to basics to ensure that they are designing and coding inclusively, from the ground-up:
All customer-facing employees should be trained to be fully welcoming to all; nobody should be made to feel “impaired” or “disabled”. Customer service is important for all, but people with ranging abilities may feel anxious about asking for help, so a friendly tone is incredibly important for making people feel comfortable and fully catered for. This ‘welcome’ can mean the difference between a customer becoming a loyal fan or never wanting to use those services again.
Enrolling employees onto courses, such as the National Disability Authority’s (NDA) e-learningmodule is a quick and easy way to do this.
At a minimum, staff should be trained on:
Overall, while some businesses are doing a fantastic job, there is still a long way to go before the UK is a completely welcome place for all. Unfortunately, many companies want to do more but just haven’t made their accessibility policy a priority.
The Domino’s ruling is an important one – and will hopefully help to shine a light on how vital inclusion is to the millions of people across the country navigating life with ranging conditions every day.
Sigma helps organisations to design products and services with their intended audience, test their apps and websites with users, and train design and development teams in accessibility.