Manifesto: 8 reasons why accessibility matters more than ever
The global shift as a result of the pandemic, has led to a host of circumstances and rapid changes that have been trying, to say the least.
Most people’s social lives moved online overnight.
Parents found themselves juggling work and parenting.
Students as young as five years old having had to switch to home-schooling.
Customers queuing online for hours to get a slot for online grocery shopping and delivery and services changing to contactless being just a few on the long list of things.
There are, however, implications to this drastic shift for people with accessibility needs now and for those who will have these needs in the future.
For this reason, we want to bring you a manifesto to highlight why accessibility matters now more than ever and will continue to matter after the pandemic.
1. Help everybody and yourself.
At one point in our lives we will all have a (lasting) disability. We should therefore attempt to actively “meet the needs of the present while working to meet the needs of the future” through continuous examination of our products and services.
2. Include the hidden.
While the pandemic may have brought a lot of us closer together, we can also unanimously agree that many people have also become more lonely and isolated. As loneliness and isolation is already felt more by people with accessibility needs, improved accessibility can reduce these phenomena and increase the overall well-being amongst this group of people.
3. Our needs forever increase.
As life expectancy increases, so do our disability-adjusted years. This is an important point since the majority of us have switched to more sedentary lifestyles overnight. This means we can expect a larger burden on our healthcare, for a longer period, per person. This in turn affects users’ future spending power as well as ability to use certain products and services. The need to design our products and services with this in mind, is therefore increasing.
4. Keep your tech fresh.
Technology changes over time and therefore so do accessibility needs. With the rapid digitalisation of services at the start of the pandemic, it would serve us to reflect on how this has impacted people with accessibility needs.
5. Share and engage.
There is an increased visibility of voices within the community of people with accessibility needs, however not an increase in accessibility. This is the optimal time to leverage this visibility in accessibility research.
6. Avoid the #a11y echo chamber.
Communication happens more and more over social media, however, many people with accessibility needs are still marginalised from this part of society and risk being excluded more and more from conversation if we do not keep the pace.
7. Sustainable success is rooted in inclusivity.
Companies are missing out on billions of pounds in revenue, by not adhering to accessibility guidelines and missing out on a large group of users [source]. Adhering to accessibility guidelines would ensure companies reduce their risk of litigation and increase their potential customer base, while simultaneously delivering an accessible experience for all.
8. Improve for tomorrow, forget about yesterday.
This year has made it evident that we have fallen short in including everyone in the debate of accessibility. Now is the time to explore how we can all be better advocates for accessibility.