What Is The Importance Of Accessibility In Software Development?

  • 1.08.2022

What is accessibility in software development?

Accessibility in software development refers to the baked-in degree of ease with which its intended users, including those with disabilities, can use a software product. These software products include Photoshop, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Access, Firefox, Windows Media Player, Skype, Google Chrome, apps, etc.

Therefore, the goal of software accessibility is to make software products accessible and available to everyone, including those with impairments. For instance, it stimulates the production of software products or systems that contain text-to-speech functions to assist a person with a visual disability.

Practical examples of accessibility in software development

An example of an accessibility application in software development is a mobile app for left-handed people, which could be re-designed for usage by right-handed people. To achieve this, the engineering team could create an option to change the layout for the user’s dominant hand, which came to light with the emergence of physical-keyboard-less all-screen smartphones.

With these types of phones, accessible software development demanded the building of software to show buttons or controls dynamically, i.e., operating on touch and not press instructions. This was what catapulted the drive for digital accessibility for software developers.

Many new age technology products are, in fact, eliminating the need for physical touch of the technology products. The development requires the product to merely be within the audible range for interaction with the owner to be secured. Examples of these products are: the Apple Home-Pod, Amazon Alexa devices, etc.

Importance of accessibility in software development

All disabilities, whether permanent or temporary, can affect access to and use of software. While technology and software make things easier for people without disabilities, for people with disabilities, they make things possible.

The general categories of disabilities accounted for in software development include auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities. Ensuring your software and its documentation are accessible is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Here is the importance of this:

1. Drives innovation

The accessibility of software development makes it necessary to bring together a variety of people, which guarantees better overall software development and the creation of fresh ideas that are advantageous to all users. The creation of numerous and adaptable user interfaces for users to interact with items that may be useful to both individuals with and without impairments is a key component of accessible design thinking, which springs from the creation of accessible software.

User-centric, collaborative, interactive, holistic, optimistic, experimental, and experiential are seven basic ideas that are embraced by design thinking in software development. For example, accessibility in software development is a user-centric concept because it embraces all users, including those with disabilities.

2. Enhances brand recognition

Software accessibility is a sign of concern for customers as people. Any business that genuinely cares about accessibility reflects a sense of corporate social responsibility. Through the thoughtful development of accessible software, you may help to create a brand that communicates to potential customers that you are forward thinking and reliable.

In addition, having a clear and integrated commitment to accessibility during software development enhances the internal culture of accessibility for software providers and helps them hire the best people. Accessibility in software development also underlies ADA site compliance because accessible software is a prerequisite for applications for making websites accessible.

3. Extend market research

The market for products that use the software can be expanded with the help of accessible software development. That is because the market for people with disabilities is large and keeps growing as the world’s population continues to age, and so does the annual discretionary spending by people with disabilities.

For instance, it is estimated that individuals with disabilities spend more than $200 billion annually in the United States alone. The market for both accessible software and the products that use it is vastly opened up by accessible software development.

Other factors that you need to consider when thinking about the accessibility of software development for use in various technology products and services include:

  • About 15 percent of the world’s population is made up of people who have a recognized disability.
  • As the world’s population ages, a growing number of people develop disabilities; as a result, 11.5 percent of people in nations with life expectancies over 70 years old spend their whole lifespans with a disability.

  • According to estimates, there are 2.3 billion persons with disabilities worldwide, and they control $6.9 trillion in annual disposable income.

4. Improved customer experience

Generally speaking, accessible software development produces accessible software, which enhances the overall quality of the products that use the software. This encourages a better client experience and subsequently greater customer loyalty. Such improvements are necessary to ensure that customers with disabilities have equitable access to the software and the products that utilize it.

Additionally, accessible software development offers choices that are advantageous to all clients in a variety of circumstances. For instance, in addition to helping users with disabilities, accessible software also benefits older individuals whose abilities are changing with age, people with temporary impairments like carpal tunnel syndrome, broken arms, or misplaced glasses, and users in difficult environments like harsh sunlight or noisy environments.

5. Minimizes legal risks

Accessibility is necessary for compliance in many sectors. If a company or organization demands accessibility compliance for the goods they buy, their staff are only allowed to collaborate with compliant suppliers.

For example, businesses and organizations that are keen on conformity with website accessibility ADA will be keen about the accessibility of the software they use in the design of their websites. They factor issues about regulation, government oversight, and the incidences of ADA cite compliance lawsuits in the decisions they make regarding procurement of software for their websites and other ICT products.

6. Human rights

Accessibility in software development is also important because accessibility is a human right. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) includes a direct reference to the rights of all people to equal access to communications technology, which includes software.

Need more information and help toward accessible software development?

It is crucial to provide accessibility during software development since it is simpler to do so than to add it later.

It is also good engineering practice to keep accessibility in mind when developing a solution than waiting to integrate it as an afterthought. You can reach out to us by clicking here or calling us at (626) 486-2201 to get more information and help toward ensuring accessible software development.