Why Accessibility Matters

The technology has prevailed our daily life. We enjoy the convenience by the technology. But a large portion of population with varied forms of disabilities may not feel the same way, because the applications are not accessible. Accessibility matters because it helps more people to use the application and bring convenience to all of us.

Accessibility is Important to Users

According to US Census Bureau, 1 in 5 people in the US have a disability. (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html)
Around the world, about 15% of the world population have some form of disability (https://www.disabled-world.com)
Even for those who don’t have any issues when they’re young, they may develop when they age. They don’t see well, have difficulties in moving around and have shaking hands.
Yes. That is terrible. We can help them. But I’m a developer. I’m just writing code. It’s not related to my work. What can I do to help them? I’m glad you ask. It’s related to our work. It’s more and more important to create applications that are also accessible to the people with disabilities. Computers, Internet and mobiles bring convenience to our life. For example, we don’t need to go to a bank for basic banking. A lot of government related activities can be done online. A few weeks ago, I filed a report of a stolen bike to police department online and got acknowledged the next day. The technology has saved us many trips. The applications we write has benefited so many people. If we are not aware of it, we may unintentionally leave behind some people that have some forms of disabilities. It’s important to keep that in mind when we develop applications. We need to make our application accessible to all.

Accessibility Adds to a Good UX Design

Speaking of good UI, we always think of elegant UI layout, attractive colors and various fonts, which is also what we interact with most of time. When I learned User Interface Design at the university, I also thought of creating good UI for our eyes until I realized how important it is for us to create accessible applications. Accessibility is an important part in UI design. A good design doesn’t only mean fancy UI. The first and most important principal of a good design is that it’s usable. I remember the cover of the book The Design of Everyday Thing. I wouldn’t argue the teapot looks good or bad. It is definitely not usable. Then what’s the point to create such a thing for people to use? That’s what we’ll get if we don’t pay attention when we develop our applications. When we keep accessibility in mind, we start to focus on the core work flow of our application. It not only helps people with disabilities, but also improves experience for those without disabilities. The application will focus on the work that it is designed for. The UI will be simplified and has less distractions.

How Accessibility Benefits Users

It’s more powerful to watch how vision impaired users to use applications. The least I don’t expect is that they are playing games. That’s amazing.

Below is a short documentary about how a blind person loves to play games.

Gaming Through New Eyes – Award Winning Short Documentary – Blind Gaming

There are indeed many obstacles to them in games. But we can make games much better for them.

Conclusion

There are already many applications that are not accessible. We cannot change all of them at once. What we can do is to design with accessibility for new applications and to fix with accessibility bit by bit for old ones. I understand that we always have limited resource, tight schedule and complicate work. But little by little, we can make the world a little better.

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