An underlying theme that should be considered in all facets of a new digital product build or update is accessibility. Particularly essential in the health space, accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites by people with disabilities.
In this article, we look at why your organisation needs to develop an accessibility strategy and what that might entail.
It creates a better experience for your users
In practice, driving accessibility in your digital products means:
- Making colours and font sizes easy to read
- Ensuring background images are simple to interpret
- Designing clear navigation that’s easy to use
- Incorporating functionality (such as registering for an event) that is relatively simple and straightforward to use for all users.
Any digital product, such as a website or app, should always take the above into consideration. The needs, skill level, abilities and goals of your user should be at the forefront of your mind whenever technology is part of the equation. In doing so, you’ll ensure that your users experience better interactions with the product or platform.
It encourages best practice
At Tadashi, we like to point to accessibility as a good measure of overall quality (which is otherwise difficult to quantify in digital). Accessibility is both what the user and Google needs.
Striving to achieve the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (or the new 2.1) Level A or AA should be the goal – and it’s mandatory for any government website. But, possibly of more value is adopting accessibility as a key principle in all decision making (whether it passes a particular test or standard, or not).
It should touch all areas of an organisation
Accessibility should reach all disciplines in an organisation – content, creative, development, testing, etc – and should be baked into requirements right from the beginning.
Business Analysts (BAs) or Product Owners (POs) are often the champions of accessibility, and should be responsible for including it in discussions throughout each step. Tadashi can guide you through this, and run workshops and strategy sessions to help lay the foundations of your accessibility strategy and its management. These workshops will consider how accessibility should be applied to all areas of the organisation, and how to generate buy-in from stakeholders.
An accessibility strategy will often address:
- The ‘why’ – to understand the purpose and the value of the strategy
- Auditing – to identify low hanging fruit or ‘quick wins’
- Stakeholder engagement – to drive communication with internal and external stakeholders
- Education – to improve overall knowledge, skills and behaviour
- Integration opportunities – to bring accessibility to life across all areas of the organisation
- Planning – to lay out a clear roadmap and timeline.
It’s a big deal
A common problem that organisations face with accessibility is the mindset of, ‘it’s such a big topic, where do we even start?’. Asking ‘why’ is an important first step:
• Why are we concerned with accessibility?
• What is the reason for it?
• What is our goal?
The answer shouldn’t be, 'because we will get sued if we don’t comply'. It shouldn’t even be, 'so we can comply with standards'. Sure, we know that your strategy will likely include a standard – but it should also include so much more.
The answer should be more valuable: 'because we want to produce better, more considered work of a higher quality’. By that we mean more accessible and inclusive, with better content and intuitive UX, and better markup. This ensures that a more diverse group of people and situations can access what you’re building.
It will act as your roadmap
Having an accessibility strategy will fuel the creation of seamless experiences for your customers, which should become a driver in decision making. If your digital assets are upheld by accessibility best practices, then by the same token, your tangible products or services should be more inclusive as well.
Your accessibility strategy will then inform all decisions downstream. It will help establish a clear, concrete roadmap which can more easily be communicated to the wider business and everyone on the team.
We’ve talked before about why strategy is important and how it can help your business. When it comes to creating a strategy for accessibility, Tadashi knows how to ask the right questions in the right places, to ensure a better outcome for your users. Get in touch to learn how we can help your health organisation build an accessibility strategy.