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Getting Internet Accessibility to the Disabled Isn’t So Easy

by | May 7, 2021 | Miscellaneous, MyTek Blog

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Internet accessibility has become a huge topic, because it is important for just about everyone to be able to access it and is classified as a utility in some nations. Not having access to the internet is generally considered a severe disadvantage to anyone, but his has affected disabled people a lot. Today we’re going to be talking about why and what can be done. 

Internet Is Not Inclusive

I’m sure you have been on the internet before and have become frustrated when a webpage had a hard to use or poor interface. For people with disabilities, this poor experience is magnified, making it difficult or even impossible for them to get the goods and services they need.

What do we Mean by Internet Accessibility?

For the purpose of this article, internet accessibility is the ease of use of a website or application. When the website is hard to navigate, understand, or successfully use, its accessibility is limited. There are four accessibility standards, known by the acronym POUR:

  • Perceivable- Content and the interface should be perceivable by everyone, especially considering those who rely on visuals and those who require sound.
  • Operable- Those with limitations need to be able to identify and navigate the website through different elements of the site. 
  • Understandable- The information and formatting should be clear so that anyone on the website can understand the meaning and it feels consistent.
  • Robust- This website should have a good amount of technology that can help with assistance for those who need it. 

While working from home and technology has become huge, accessibility is that much more important. Websites that everyone needs to use must be accessible for those who need tools to use them. In America, one-in-every-four people have a disability and so the pandemic made internet accessibility difficult for over a billion people. 

Common Disabilities

Here are some of the most common disabilities that make it difficult to use certain web pages and applications that are not built properly:

  • Visual disabilities- Blindness, color blindness, low vision, vision impaired.
  • Hearing disabilities- Deafness, hearing impaired.
  • Neurological disabilities- Nervous system related disorders and conditions.
  • Cognitive disabilities- Attention, learning and logic impaction.
  • Motor disabilities- Motor skills, slow muscles, or the use of hands.

In the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which were created by the World Wide Web Consortium to establish basic rules for the internet. The WCAG became a foundational guide for creating websites and includes Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The European Standard EN 301 549 of the EU Web Accessibility Directive) actually incorporates the WCAG’s guidelines into its own as well.

While it may be a good start, we need more useful and well thought guidelines to ensure that the internet accessibility becomes a thing of the past.

The pandemic and the hype ruse of the internet exposed a lack of inclusivity on the internet. If you take a look at state unemployment sites, 86 percent of them failed at least one of the basic evaluations for mobile loading speed, mobile friendliness or accessibility.

Telehealth services, which have become way more used due to the pandemic, have also been exposed for being hard to use, lacking usability, consistency and not having closed captioning. In a survey done by Pew Research Center in 2016, it was revealed that adults with disabilities were about 20 percent less likely to own the technology they need, including computers, mobile devices, broadband connectivity and other technologies. This is due to them not having the budget for the resources they need.

With social distancing and working from home likely extending into 2022, we need to make sure that websites are accessible. Websites need to be accessible to those with disabilities, just like they are for everyone else. MyTek is here if you have any questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tim Tiller, LMSW

 
Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.

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