What is Digital Accessibility?
Digital accessibility refers to the process of creating digital material and technology to be useful and accessible to individuals with impairments. Websites, mobile apps, electronic papers, movies, and other media are all part of it.
The purpose of digital content accessibility is to guarantee that individuals of all abilities have equal and unhindered access to and use digital resources.
Web Accessibility vs Digital Accessibility
Although connected, web accessibility and digital accessibility are two separate concepts. Web accessibility relates especially to the design and development of websites and online apps to make them accessible to individuals with impairments. It involves things like making sure information can be navigated with a keyboard instead of a mouse, providing alternate text for pictures, and utilizing correct HTML and CSS code.
Yet, digital accessibility is a more general term that covers not only websites but also mobile apps, computer programs, and digital documents. It encompasses not just online accessibility, but also accessibility for other digital goods such as e-books, PDFs, and multimedia material.
Digital accessibility also extends beyond merely technological concerns and involves challenges relating to usability, user experience, and inclusive design. Accessible design and development aim to make digital material and tools usable by everyone.
In essence, whereas web accessibility is concerned only with the creation of accessible websites and online apps, digital accessibility expands to include all forms of digital media and computing. Both must be in place to guarantee equal and accessible use of the internet for those with physical impairments.
Principles of Digital Accessibility (POUR)
- Perceivable – Content and UI elements should be created in a manner that allows everyone to understand them, regardless of their sensory or cognitive ability.
- Operable – The content and technology must be usable, meaning that users may explore and interact with it without encountering any unnecessary or unexpected hurdles and that all functionality must be accessible via the keyboard or other non-mouse input device.
- Understandable – It is essential that all users, including those with cognitive or linguistic impairments, be able to make sense of the information and user interface components.
- Robust – Content and technology must be built to withstand usage by a wide range of users, including those who may access it through assistive devices.
Importance of Digital Accessibility
For several reasons, businesses should make digital access a top priority. For starters, it’s the ethical thing to do. Everyone, regardless of their physical or mental limitations, should have the same opportunities to learn and grow via the use of modern technologies. Second, if more people can access and utilize digital material and technology, its reach and influence will grow. Finally, many nations’ laws and regulations mandate that digital material and technology must be available, and organizations that fail to comply may be subject to legal and financial repercussions.
Digital Accessibility Standards
To ensure that all users can fully experience and benefit from digital information and services, several organizations have developed accessibility standards. The WCAG- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, ARIA- Accessible Rich Internet Applications, and the Section 508 standards in the United States are all examples of such regulations.
Digital Accessibility Compliance and Regulations
Federally funded agencies and organizations in the United States are obligated to make their digital material and technology accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The European Union also has legislation aimed at making goods and services more accessible to people with disabilities; this law is called the European Accessibility Act.
Designing and creating accessible digital content and technology is an essential part of making the digital world more inclusive and welcoming. There are many standards and laws in place to make sure that digital information and technology are accessible, and the principles of accessibility, POUR, give a framework for doing so. For the sake of expanding the reach and influence of digital material and meeting legal and regulatory obligations, businesses should make digital accessibility a top priority.