The web and technological advances create new opportunities and have the potential to remove communication barriers many face in the physical world. Yet millions of people can’t fully reap the benefits of those opportunities because of inaccessibile digital products.
Governments (including the United States) have made strides in implementing or updating regulations and policies that reflect the modern day reality that people of all abilities use the web and digital products. These regulations ensure that people with disabilities do not face discrimination and have equal access and opportunity to use the web and digital products.
While regulations provide a baseline, industry guidelines can provide more context and direction for accessibility in UX. Features like screen readers, text-to-speech, closed captioning and sticky keys are commonplace thanks to established industry guidelines.
35 percent of web accessibility-related litigation since the year 2000 has happened in the past five years.
Consider these regulations as the foundation for what product development teams need to know:
Depending on the industry, corporations or institutions may establish their own policies for web accessibility that are more extensive than the government regulations listed above. You can get an idea of those applicable policies and regulations from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Understanding all of the regulatory pieces that affect UX can seem overwhelming. You may feel like you have to catch up in order to be compliant, and that’s OK. While it takes time and money to remediate older sites or products, it’s a critical effort that keeps your products out of the courtroom and in compliance. Furthermore, ensuring accessibility is a priority among your team throughout design, development and research can help mitigate risk from the start.
This is part one of a three-part series on accessibility.
- Part 2: Embracing Industry Guidelines and Best Practices Around Accessibility
- Part 3: Don’t Just Seek Compliance — Practice Inclusive Design
Still have questions? Drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.