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[WEBINAR REPLAY/HIGHLIGHTS] Why Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design Matters

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According to the CDC, 61 million Americans are living with some kind of disability. And whether it affects vision, hearing, mobility, or something else, businesses need to be aware—and take action. For many brands, their primary interaction with consumers is through their website. 

Want to find out why it’s essential for digital content to be accessible and how to address some of the most common problems? Join Program Director Andrew Miller and Academic Director Jeremy Osborn of Aquent Gymnasium for a new webinar, Why Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design Matters, now available to watch on demand.

Read on as we dig into some context behind inclusive design and why it’s become so much more than a trend.

It Makes Moral Sense

This goes back to something many of us learned in kindergarten. Treat others how you want to be treated. And when it comes to brands, it’s about including everyone. As Venture Beat put it recently, “Imagine approaching a restaurant only to find it has no door. You know people are inside, but you can’t join them. For individuals with disabilities, this is how interacting with websites, and mobile apps can feel when companies don’t prioritize accessibility.” 

The more that we can think about different perspectives when we’re creating digital properties, the better. How might a blind person interact with this site? What if someone needs help scrolling? What can we do for a deaf consumer? 

This can even extend to different races and cultures. In this example, shared on Slate, we see how a lack of diversity in thinking leads to a product flaw—an automatic soap dispenser only ‘responds’ to a caucasian hand. We need to put ourselves into other people’s places in various ways while we are creating in order to make sites, products, designs, heck, the world, truly accessible to all.

It Makes Business Sense

In addition to the moral factor, there is a practical business reason to design inclusively. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) reports that the disposable income for working-age people with disabilities is $490 billion. Yes, billion with a ‘b.’ That’s a lot of spending power. 

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Although AIR finds that most companies are not yet actively going after this market, there are trends in the right direction. Tommy Hilfiger started an accessible clothing line with magnetic closures, and Zappos launched Zappos Adaptive, clothing and shoes for people with physical disabilities and sensory issues. Of course, there are many voice-assisted devices today, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. 

The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas featured a full range of inclusive tech products, including the hearing aid from Oticon More, designed to process speech more like a human brain, and the Aware app, which helps visually impaired users navigate their physical surroundings by reading off turn-by-turn directions. 

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It Can Keep You Out of Court

In addition to gaining market share, companies are finding they also have a legal obligation to make their products and content accessible. In 2019, the courts found in favor of a blind man who sued Domino’s because its site did not accommodate his screen reading software therefore making it impossible for him to order a pizza (a topic well covered in the webinar). Similar cases were filed against Burger King, Nike, and Blue Apron. 

Even an icon like Beyonce isn’t exempt. Her website was also dinged for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A visually impaired fan looking to buy tickets could not, due to a lack of alt tags, denial of keyboard access, and no accessible dropdown menus. 

You Need to Watch the Webinar

Designing for everyone is imperative. Check out our on-demand webinar as Gymnasium’s Andrew Miller and Jeremy Osborn discuss some of these issues and give you practical, hands-on next steps to test for accessibility issues and solutions to make your content available to everyone.

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