Why Accessibility Matters To Everyone

by Nathan Williams | 21st Sep 2017

ProMo-Cymru is helping charities find digital solutions to better communicate with users.

We’re currently working with two charities that aim to increase the accessibility of their digital services and reflect the needs and voice of disabled people. We’ll shortly be showcasing this work.

In this post, I’d like to share what I learnt through working with these charities and their users. Mainly how good design is important for everyone, and how it helped me.

"Good design is important for everyone" accessibility infographic

As part of developing new digital services for these organisations, we spoke to a range of users to understand how they used digital platforms. Their biggest frustration was the same as mine. Namely with badly designed services.

Yet the outcome for this group was that they often had to work harder to access services. This was especially true when online access points were poor. This could result in having to undertake complex travel arrangements to meet service representatives in person. Sometimes it meant having to wait long periods of time so that arrangements could be put in place to meet their needs.

Screen readers and text to speech apps

What became clear is how services other than the government and the third sector are innovating to ensure online accessibility. One person I spoke to gave me a quick tutorial in how he used the accessibility settings on his iPhone. He showed me how an iPhone can read almost anything on the screen to you, as well as other functions. This was one of the most effective demonstrations that I’ve sat through. It took three minutes and has improved the quality of my life.

It took three minutes and has improved the quality of my life - Photo by Raul Petri on Unsplash

The demonstration was a revelation because I suffer from an eye condition. It means I have to wear contact lenses rather than glasses to correct my vision. Without contacts reading is somewhat of a struggle. Trust me glasses don’t help.

I’m a prolific reader. To feed my habit I sometimes stay up late reading. Yet I have to take my contacts out before I go to bed. The upshot of this iPhone demonstration was that I could have written online content read to me. This means I could take my contacts out and go to bed earlier. Waking up for my 6am start has become a little bit easier.

Good online accessibility makes services easier to use for everyone

Before seeing the accessibility software on iOS (and an alternative on Android called Pocket), the software I had seen used in the statutory and third sector was a bit dated. It was also hard to use and I couldn’t see myself using it. Experiencing audio reading has also given me an understanding of how badly-optimised websites can make text translation difficult to comprehend.

"Accessibility software I've seen used in the statutory and third sector is a bit dated and hard to use" infographic for accessibility article

From talking to people about their experience using online services, I’ve learnt that accessibility means that using services becomes easier for everyone. And through listening to other people’s voices we are able to strengthen our own.

Everything starts with a conversation

ProMo-Cymru works towards building positive change and lasting relationships between individuals, families and communities. Providing innovative and creative solutions through meaningful conversations and digital technology. If you’d like to discuss how our TEC Model can help your organisation then get in touch.

029 2046 2222

Cover Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash