Is web accessibility the next big legal headache, or is it the obvious future for the next generation of software?
Without a doubt accessibility is becoming more and more important.
We see more developers, and companies, investing in accessible rich text editing components to stay ahead of their legal obligations, as well as their competition when it comes to providing world-class software. Accessibility is rapidly becoming one of the most popular and demanded features within our rich text editing platform.
If you needed any more proof that accessibility concerns are on the rise, Dominos recently submitted a case to the US Supreme Court to try and determine, once and for all, if websites and online applications need to be accessible under the ADA act.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility may be one of the last things on your mind when it comes to developing websites and software. But, shouldn’t we all be thinking about how we ensure everyone can access our sites and solutions, regardless of any disabilities they might live with?
When it comes to accessibility, it can cover a wide variety of situations including:
- Visual impairment requiring a screen reader to read text
- Support for those who are unable to read small text
- Those suffering from hearing impairment who are unable to hear audio content or watch visual content
- The color blind who need help distinguishing between text and a background color
- Those who have fine motor coordination challenges and are unable to use a mouse
- As well as those who have reading difficulties, including dyslexia or other medical conditions
Accessibility isn’t just about the extreme cases. It is a much wider, far reaching area which affects hundreds of millions of people world-wide. You can read more on what it means here.
Why does accessibility matter?
If as an industry we aren’t building our products to support and enable these people, we are helping to shut them out of the online world. We are stopping these people from having access to the same content and experiences everyone else has online.
It is about creating an inclusive experience where everyone can benefit and access the same information and get access to the same resources.
That is the moral argument, but there are also good business reasons for caring about accessibility. These people are potential customers.
Coming purely from the marketing mindset here, we know a great customer experience, coupled with a world-class product, is what sets businesses apart from their competition. Accessibility, and focusing on building a product which supports accessibility, is one way we can build this experience.
The simple fact is, the more we focus on accessibility and utilize tools which put accessible features within our offerings, the more people we can reach with our content and products – it expands our audience.
The legal argument
With the Domino’s case now in the US Supreme Court, this is a clear indication of government and the legal community are taking the issue of digital accessibility seriously.
It is not just the US that is leading the charge when it comes to accessibility and the legal ramifications. The EU has already taken steps to address accessibility with the European Accessibility Act, which was proposed to the European Parliament earlier this year. This act will force developers and companies towards a truly accessible experience if they wish to continue to trade and do business within the EU.
The world around us is changing their attitudes when it comes to accessibility, and it is clear in the next 3-5 years this will be a big legal hurdle for developers and companies to jump over. It is only a matter of time before accessibility becomes a legal standard when developing new technologies.
The new normal
Without a doubt, accessibility is just one of the many things we need to take into consideration when it comes to technology and development.
Accessibility is time consuming, and anyone that has developed for it knows it can be tricky to meet all the requirements. We have developers who focus almost solely on our accessibility solution for our rich text editor TinyMCE, and it takes a lot of time and resources to build truly accessible platforms and software. It is an area of constant refinement and improvement.
Despite all this, we must continue to improve our processes and support those who benefit from this inclusive mindset. We need to be vigilant, when we are developing new products or websites, that we keep this digital experience in mind.
Accessibility is becoming the new standard, and is something more and more businesses and developers are taking seriously. It is now a case of building our products to become truly accessible.