Web accessibility is much, much more than just making sure that you comply with UK law or regulation, it’s a great way to ensure digital inclusion. Making sure that websites and other digital content such as livechat, videos, and social media, are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities, means you are expanding reach and getting your information, service, or products to a wider audience.
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What is digital inclusion?
Digital inclusion is all about ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their age, socio-economic status, or ability, have access to and use of digital technologies, and yes, this includes the internet. Digital inclusion categories include access to devices that enable connection to the internet (such as laptops, smartphones, PCs. etc), the background internet connectivity (such as internet providers, what internet connection is like where you live), people’s digital skills, affordability, and web accessibility.
How does web accessibility help digital inclusion?
Web accessibility plays a big role in digital inclusion for many reasons:
Access for all
Web accessibility helps to make sure that everyone, including those with disabilities, can access and understand online information, services, and products. If you think about how that affects access to education, employment, and public services – things that many people rely on every day – the impact is massive.
Accessibility friendly websites and digital content help digital inclusion by enabling people to connect with others, access services that are for social use, and involve online communities, such as forums or social media groups.
Affordability and economic inclusion
As the digital economy continues to grow, web accessibility is essential for people to access job opportunities and job boards, online banking, online grocery shopping or buying other things online. All of this contributing to digital inclusion.
Access to learning and educational inclusion
Many educational materials are now based on learning platforms or distributed or shared digitally. Students with disabilities need to have equal access to these materials make sure that they have equal opprtunity to succeed in their studies.
Government and public sector inclusion
Public sector websites, including those providing government services, universities and schools, councils, public healthcare providers, and other public services are bound to digital accessibility regulation, to ensure that everyone can access services, benefits, and information.
The impact of web accessibility on website users
Web accessibility has a massive impact on the lives of those with disabilities in the UK. Having gone through hundreds of website accessibility improvement projects, we have seen first hand how much of a difference web accessibility can make. From giving up on a brand’s website, through to becoming a loyal customer – the impact is that big. However, it isn’t just those with disabilities that digital inclusion and web accessibility serves.
People who have disabilities
As just stated, accessible websites allow people with disabilities to lead more independent lives, allowing them to access information easily, and helping enagagement.
The older generation
Older adults often benefit from web accessibility and digital inclusion schemes, as they often accommodates age-related challenges, such as reduced vision, reduced motor skills, and digital skills.
Those on low incomes
Digital inclusion and accessible websites can help bridge the digital divide of affordability, allowing low-income families to access important services, information, and products.
What’s the impact of digital inclusion?
Digital inclusivity may help your company to expand. Think about it – If your expanding your reach to include a more diverse rnage of people, of course there’s an opportunity that those people will also become your customers. Greater inclusion also creates demad for greater digital innovation which present further economic opportunities.
Bringing people together
Digital inclusion, with web accessibility as it’s base, helps to reduce the barriers of communication between a greater number of people in society. For example allowing easy access to information for all, having communication channels that are accessibility friendly, and setting up social groups on accessibility friendly social channels.
Have a legal or ethical responsibility
You need to make sure that your web accessibility strategy aligns with UK legal or regulatory requirements, including the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018, along with WCAG and ideally that also are ethically matched to enabling accessibility.
How can we promote digital inclusion?
Education and awareness
We train and educate businesses, government departments, public sector services, and the public about the importance of web accessibility and its role in digital inclusion. Once you have learned how to best implement web accessibility in your business, you can also become an advocate.
Legislation and regulation
We regulary campaign and have conversations with likeminded organisations and individuals of how we can further progress digital inclusivity.
Promote the use of accessible technology within your company and beyond, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, and assistive devices, along with technology that enables ease of use with your digital assets for those with disabilities.