Accessible applications enable companies to also reach people with a disability, a customer group not to be underestimated. The additional costs for accessibility are minimal, the awareness of the providers often as well.
Our first article on accessibility was dedicated to digital construction sites and explained why the topic requires management attention. The second article described the lack of education, which is reflected in the fact that many software developers do not have the basic knowledge needed to develop accessible applications. This article illustrates how minimal investments in accessibility would significantly simplify the lives of people with a disability.
Accessible by design – the benefits by far outweigh the costs
Well-designed applications that take the needs of users into account from the start form the basis for accessible software solutions. Unfortunately, the different user groups are often taken into consideration too late or not at all, which results in applications that are only partially or not at all accessible for people with a disability.
There are numerous reasons for this. One of them are the extra costs that an accessible design is supposed to cause. This is hard to understand. How much more does it cost, for example, to make a button a few pixels larger so that it can be used by a person with a movement disorder? What are the additional costs of deciding on the right contrast ratio, font size, or keyboard usability? The problem is not the cost, but rather the lack of awareness of accessibility among product owners, UX designers, and developers. In addition, it is difficult to dispel the myth that accessible applications are ugly. They are neither ugly nor do they impact the user experience of people without a disability – it’s the opposite. A good example of an accessible application is SBB Mobile. It is extremely popular, because it can also be operated by blind and visually impaired people without any problems and is said to be visually appealing.
No more patronizing
Again and again it is argued that this or that application does not have to be accessible, because people with a disability are not part of the target audience. Really? Why, for example, should a blind person not be able to rent a car or reserve seats at a movie theater?
However, not only online shops or e-banking applications lack accessibility, but also applications that would support a disabled person to do meaningful work. For example, many of the freely or commercially available software packages (whereby high license fees must sometimes be paid for the latter) are not or only partially accessible. This still makes it difficult for people with a disability to enter the primary labor market and is in clear contradiction to the assistive technologies available today. These technologies allow disabled people to complete an apprenticeship or obtain a university degree better than ever before.
Actions instead of empty promises
Many larger US companies recognize the problems described and are recruiting experts to help them make their applications accessible to as many users as possible. A study conducted by PWC Australia  in 2019 concludes that applications that are accessible have the potential to reach up to four times the customer base, which has a positive impact on the autonomy and social inclusion of affected people. The integration of persons with a disability into society was and is an important goal of the invalidity insurance. On the one hand, this clearly results in massive cost savings and, on the other hand, it increases the psychological well-being of those affected. Therefore, accessibility is not primarily about doing something good for disabled people and easing one's conscience on top of it. It is about empowering people with a disability to take responsibility in their private, professional and social environment and to contribute to society. Only if both people affected by a disability and providers of products and services benefit, can we hope to leave the world a little better than we found it, in the spirit of Baden-Powell's Boy Scout wisdom.
AdNovum conducted a detailed accessibility assessment for a well-known American company, and our findings were incorporated into the redesign of the application. Are you also interested in our expertise? We are looking forward to your call or e-mail.