Thanks to Covid-19, Website Accessibility has Never been More Important
The first global pandemic of the digital era is upon us. We’re living in unprecedented and uncomfortable times. For our senior citizens, these past several weeks have been particularly discomforting. According to the CDC, men and women over the age of 65 are significantly more likely to develop complications from COVID-19. As we seek to restrict the spread of coronavirus, it’s critical that we protect one another, especially our elders, and adhere to current directives to practice and enforce social distancing. Isolating ourselves in a bid to stop the spread of disease is incredibly important as we aim to protect seniors, in particular. As more of us stay home under quarantine (can’t say I would have ever imagined writing those words), it’s only natural that we will become even more reliant on our connection to the digital world. In one form or another, just about all of us have come to rely on countless digital services. Consider, for instance, the many services that seniors typically rely on. There’s email. There’s medical resources — information as well as online appointments with a doctor. There are shopping websites, particularly for food. Certainly, we are all trying to keep pace with the unceasing wealth of information pouring in day after day surrounding this rapidly evolving global event. So there’s also this basic need for news, which is more heightened than ever. The list goes on and on. From paying our bills to ordering our groceries and staying on top of 24/7 news cycles, unimpeded access to web has never felt so urgent. But the fact is, for many of the individuals who are most at risk, fully engaging with your website and applications can be difficult or, even, impossible. The prevalence of disabilities and impairments impacting one’s use of a computer or mobile device increases with age, so our seniors are more likely to face obstacles when websites are not coded with website accessibility in mind. This is a demographic that represents 16-percent of the United States population, including seniors. The needs of our aging population overlap, in many ways, with the needs of our population with disabilities. Seniors often have impairments that make using online and web-based technology difficult. These are just a few of the digital access barriers that are impacting tens of millions of people around the world: Vision: Contrast sensitivity can be reduced, color perception can be difficult, and focus can be hard, making web pages particularly difficult to read when text is not crisp, clear and large. Someone with cataracts, macular degeneration or any other impairment causing low vision may not be able to fully engage and interact with a website if it isn’t created to support zooming or provide options to enlarge text. Motor control and dexterity: Using a mouse can be difficult, painful or even simply impossible for some users. Clicking that mouse or pressing that button, especially on small call-to-action buttons, can be similarly challenging. If you have developed severe tremors that have made it impossible to use a mouse to navigate, a website will only be usable if measures have been taken to support visual focus and keyboard navigation. Cognitive function: The modern web is dynamic, interactive and ever-changing. For example, fast moving carousels that rapidly transition from one block of information to the next can be too overwhelming for those requiring more time to read and process information. Controls are needed to pause highly interactive features and functions. » Read More
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