In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day we’re explaining what accessibility means and why businesses and their HR leaders should pay attention to it. As the world becomes increasingly digital, you’ll surely encounter the need to evaluate new workplace software or tools. For HR especially, considering whether new technology is accessible can make a world of difference for the employee experience. Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know about accessibility:
What is accessibility?
Accessibility (also known as inclusive design) is how we design and build our digital products to work for the widest possible range of users. When most people think of accessibility, they think of accommodating users with noticeable impairments (e.g. people who are blind, deaf or have reduced motor skills). But addressing accessibility actually helps everyone to have a better user experience. Take this diagram from Microsoft's inclusive toolkit for example:
Why HR should care about accessible technology
Addressing accessibility is not just the right thing to do, it also makes great business sense:
The World Health Organization estimates that, as of 2011, 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. With more of the world's population coming online, it’s increasingly important that the web and web-based software work for impaired users.
As the population ages, more web users will experience degeneration of hearing, sight and motor skills and will use the web and technology differently as a result.
Implementing accessibility best practices typically results in a better user experience for those who aren’t otherwise impaired. For example, power users (those who use advanced features in a program) benefit from keyboard accessibility put in place for users who cannot operate a mouse.
Any software your organization is considering using should:
Have a design system that reflects industry standards and best practices
Be regularly audited by an external accessibility consultancy
Meet (or be working towards meeting) WCAG 2.0 AA, the international accessibility standard
Learn more about user experience design and how we approach it at PeopleDoc in my 3-part blog series, below:
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Nicole Harris is the head of User Experience at PeopleDoc. She works closely with designers, developers and product owners to deliver better experiences for all PeopleDoc users.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts, Media Arts (with distinction) from Deakin University, Australia. She is a published O’Reilly screencaster and regular speaker at technical conferences. She lives in Perth, Scotland.