Three ways to beat the recession with accessible information
It is important in tough times to make the most of the market.
Accessible information can help you make money by increasing your market reach. Not everyone is the same – 20% of people in NZ have disabilities. Our population is ageing, with numbers of people over 65 approaching 14% of the population. There are increasing numbers of people for whom English is a second language
You will save money by careful planning to provide multiple sources of information. An accessible web site can mean fewer calls to call centres. If I can’t use a site easily I will use the phone to find the information I want. This will cost the information provider more.
You will prevent waste. If people have access to clear and understandable information they will be able to use products and services properly and minimise waste. In the health services people need clear, understandable and accessible information so they can make the most of their medication and treatment.
Webaim has released its Survey of Preferences of Screen Readers Users conducted December 2008 through January 2009 It makes interesting if somewhat frustrating reading. While 1121 responses were received we are not told where they came from – I know some kiwi users responded – that might make a difference as different countries have different access to resources for users to have up to date technology.
The survey covered preferences in the following areas:
The conclusions the survey draws are hardly surprising.
“What it tells us is that there is no typical screen reader user.”
It goes on to say “This survey emphasizes that screen reader accessibility is about real people – and people that have diverse abilities and preferences. As developers, we must do our best to accommodate the needs of this diverse group.”
“In general, these results suggest that following accessibility guidelines and standards, using technologies that support high levels of accessibility, and providing users with options is of the highest importance.”
There was a wide range of responses to the survey so it was difficult to make any hard and fast recommendations Webaim said.
One thing I found particularly interesting was the number of respondents who had more than one impairment, 118 respondents (10.4%) reported multiple disabilities. Perhaps since the respondents were self-selected people with more than one impairment are more likely to experience accessibility barriers and therefore more likely to respond. Developers might take this into account.
It is worth a read, and I recommend it to developers in particular. It is also worth noting that of course screen reader users are not the only people who experience web site accessibility barriers.