The necessary measures to fight COVID-19 which are being put in place by governments around the world means that people are currently being asked, like never before, to drastically adapt their lifestyles, routines and habits. People are required to work from home where possible, avoid social contact as much as possible and to stay at home. This has limited people’s access to physical shops and phone lines of companies and services have become inundated.
It is, therefore, no surprise that people have turned to the online world to meet some of their needs which they previously did in person or over the phone, whether that’s doing their weekly shop, going to work, paying their bills, going to the gym or connecting with friends and family. All of these can be done remotely, from home, using digital services (at least to a degree!). I’m sure that these recent developments in digital will help us fight the effects of this global pandemic.
Everyone will feel the limitations of staying at home and relying more heavily on digital solutions to try and keep some stability and normality in their lives. However, people with disabilities are likely to feel these limitations even more acutely, and therefore face a greater health risk, as so much of the digital world, unfortunately, isn’t built with them strongly in mind.
If you aren’t familiar with digital accessibility, it includes considerations such as (but by no means limited to):
Ensuring that websites are compatible with assistive technologies (for example, screen readers for blind users)
Making sure that people who use a keyboard instead of a mouse are still able to access and do everything others normally would
Using colour combinations which can be read by visually impaired users and are tolerable for users with autism
Ensuring that the language used can be easily understood by users with various cognitive impairments or have English as a second language
Ensuring that there are multiple ways to access a service, for example, that it does not solely rely on a phone service which may be inaccessible to D/deaf users
Online shopping must be fully accessible if we want disabled people to stay safe and stay at home. Now, more than ever, it will be crucial that intranets of companies are accessible as huge chunks of the workforce are forced to work from home. To promote wellbeing among this group during this difficult time, home workout apps, video calling platforms, online courses and community platforms must be accessible.
Let me be clear, digital accessibility is not a ‘one-time need’ during this global health crisis, it has always been a matter of importance to ensure that the digital world is an equal one. However, these issues are greatly exacerbated by the unprecedented times we are currently experiencing and will have very real health and wellbeing repercussions for the disabled community in the immediate future.
We have many years of digital accessibility experience, and we want to help ensure that companies provide accessible products and services to their userbase. Something which is crucial every day, but especially now. We understand that many companies may be facing financial uncertainty at the moment, but if you would like support improving your digital accessibility, please do get in touch as we will be reducing our accessibility audit rates to help during this time.