Digital Accessibility in Application Development: An Insider's Perspective

  • mayo 19, 2023

Knock, knock. Who's there? Accessibility!

As a screen reader user, I have a personal stake in digital accessibility. When apps and websites don't work with my assistive technologies catering, I can't help but feel frustrated and left out. So, in the spirit of the 2023 Global Accessibility Awareness Day, let's talk about why it's high time for developers to embrace digital accessibility and create more inclusive applications.

The Good, the Bad, and the Inaccessible

In the world of app development, accessibility is that party guest — an after-thought — who’s invariably invited late. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are here to make sure the party is accessible to everyone. But developers aren't always consistent in rolling out the red carpet. With 97.8% of home pages having detectable WCAG 2.1 failures, we clearly need to up our game.

Benefits of creating accessible applications: the sweet, sweet perks

With 15% of the global population experiencing some form of disability, it's a no-brainer to prioritize accessible and inclusive design.

  • Enhanced user experience: Apps that get accessibility are like a perfectly tailored suit. They feel right for users irrespective of their abilities and preferences, including those who prefer keyboards, joysticks, mice, screen readers, voice control or eye-tracking systems.
  • Larger potential users: If you build it (accessibly), they'll certainly come, and get some more along the way! Catering to users with disabilities means casting a wider net and reeling in more users. And yes, they do impact the buying behaviors of their immediate circle of influence. For instance, members of my family have moved to a particular ecommerce and taxi-aggregator app over the existing competition because the accessibility features removed friction from our collective buying experiences.
  • Spill-over business impact: Accessibility is like a Swiss Army knife — versatile, adaptable, and useful for everyone. Designing apps with accessibility in mind makes sure they're usable not only by people with disabilities, but also adds value to businesses and a wider spectrum of users. Websites that follow WCAG also rank higher in search rankings as it makes content equally friendly for all types of machines alike, including assistive technologies.
  • Legal compliance: Avoiding potential lawsuits is always a good look. Stick to accessibility guidelines, and you'll stay on the right side of the law.
  • Positive brand image: When you prioritize accessibility, you're not only building an app; but also, a reputation as a socially responsible, forward-thinking company.

Adaptable accessibility in app development: the recipe for success

Here's a secret sauce for making your app accessible and inclusive:

  • Audit like a boss: Use a mix of automated tools and manual testing to regularly check your app's accessibility. No one likes to be caught off-guard. Target to achieve at least WCAG 2.1 level AA compliance, and tick as many boxes from level AAA as possible.
  • Consult the experts: People with disabilities know what works and what doesn't. Talk to them, listen and learn.
  • Stay platform-savvy: Keep up with accessibility guidelines for Apple's iOS, Google’s Android, or any platform you're working on. Knowledge is power!
  • Be resourceful: Online resources, such as WCAG Guidelines and developer communities are your best friends. Keep them close, and you'll never feel lost.

Making accessibility the life of the party

Embracing digital accessibility in app development is a win-win for everyone. By prioritizing inclusivity, developers create better experiences, expand their user-base and promote a positive brand image. Let's make accessibility the life of the app development party, shall we?

At NTT DATA, we're committed to creating inclusive spaces for people with disabilities across our circle of influence. Inside NTT DATA, there's a concentrated cross-functional effort to increase representation and support of people with disabilities. We're proud of our two of our many employee resource groups (ERGs)— Access for Persons with Disabilities and LIFT for Mental Health. Both are committed to building awareness on accessibility within and outside NTT DATA. Outside, we also offer accessibility services to our clients which include digital accessibility testing and remediation and Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) certifications.

As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, let's strive to create a more inclusive digital world. Learn more about how NTT DATA can help you with accessible App Design and Development services.

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Ankit Rajiv Jindal

Ankit is a marketing specialist, disability rights activist, writer and social entrepreneur. With nearly ten years of rich and diversified corporate experience, he is an expert in content and digital marketing. Ankit is passionate about creating an inclusive and better world for persons with disabilities. He has co-authored A Value Route to Business Success, an HR manual developed by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), and has spoken at national and international forums. Follow him on Twitter @ankitjindal85.


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