Going Beyond Accessibility Compliance to Provide an Equivalent Experience
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! Today is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of making technology accessible to everyone. Over 1 billion people worldwide live with some form of disability or impairment, making accessibility a vital consideration. The purpose of this day is to get people conversing, learning, and thinking about the digital impact of accessibility. To mark this event, we decided to publish a post about how we, Explorance, take accessibility to heart.
At Explorance, we take accessibility very seriously. It’s not just a buzzword we use. It’s a commitment and one of the cornerstones of our company. We believe that accessibility is a natural right and we strive to provide an ‘equivalent experience’ for everyone. What that means is that we integrate features and functionality in every solution we develop to provide a similar experience for every user. This creates the same ease-of-use, zero loss of functionality, and an optimized experience for all.
What accessibility means in the IT world is enabling hardware and software to be used by more people, to include those with disabilities or impairments. It’s easy for software providers to meet with compliance standards by adhering to the minimum requirements. What happens is that most companies focus on providing access and not on offering a positive user experience. Thinking about accessibility in this manner creates a less than optimal experience with minimum accessibility and vast room for improvement.
We believe that accessibility should go beyond compliance. In fact, we view accessibility as a social responsibility. That’s why we adhere to accessibility best practices in everything we do. This ensures the inclusive design of our solutions and an equivalent experience for all users.
Accessibility Best Practices
At Explorance, we follow a myriad of best practices to ensure a truly accessible product. From education to group testing, we adhere to accessibility guidelines to provide a positive user experience. Here’s how we integrate accessibility in all facets of our company:
- Education & Training: We invest in educating all our developers and designers on accessibility standards and trends. This includes four training courses a year that focus solely on accessibility which are provided by experts in the industry.
- Social Responsibility: We encourage our employees to be committed and sensitive to the notion of accessibility. This includes:
- Commitment to accessibility as a ‘social responsibility’, which is key for Explorance’s success in delivering highly accessible solutions.
- The belief in the value of enabling everyone’s voice to be heard, which is held by everyone at Explorance.
- Interface Testing: We test the accessibility of all end user interfaces in the early stages of design to implement a truly inclusive approach. This establishes a proactive commitment to accessibility, not one that is an afterthought. This enables:
- The right decisions to be made to provide a truly equivalent experience to all.
- The inclusion of all stakeholders in the assessment process. When we refer to “all”, we mean “all” - accessibility should not be a right provided only to students, but also to instructors and other key stakeholders.
- Accessibility Audits: At the end of every release, we contract a third party institution to run accessibility audits on our software for the purposes of ensuring compliance. This includes:
- Group Testing: Finally, in parallel to VPAT testing, we run a full accessibility user group testing which consists of individuals with different disabilities, impairments, and/or device preferences. Run through a third party, this is instrumental to ensure that proposed solutions are not only compliant with industry standards, but that they actually are useful to end users. The outcome is that we can offer a positive and equivalent experience to all.
What are you doing to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day? What is your personal or organizational commitment to accessibility? Comment and let us know.