Accessibility: An Experiential Design Perspective
Website accessibility is an important—and too often overlooked—facet of one’s online brand. Not only is it fair that everyone has access to the Web and virtual worlds, but equitable access is also legally mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Fortunately, the costs for increasing the accessibility of your web site have come down dramatically over the years. You no longer need a high-priced team of accessibility experts toiling away for weeks; instead, website plug-ins are available that automate and deskill many tasks so only a few hours are needed at first, and then modest ongoing oversight to ensure updates are handled properly and functionality remains consistent.
While this is good news on its own, it’s even more relevant when you consider the increasing rate of website shakedowns and legal actions against non-ADA compliant websites. We know small businesses are often stuck weighing the cost of an accessibility revamp versus the cost of legal action if their sites are found to be out of ADA compliance. At Sales Renewal, we have committed to taking the “what if?” out of this question by providing accessibility packages to fit all budgets.
Recently, we successfully piloted our solution with a client expert in accessibility, design and branding: Image 4 a Brand Marketing Agency. Image 4 embraced the new technology with gusto; here’s what Jeffrey Baker, their President and Creative Director, had to say:
I’m one of the millions of citizens with a very minor disability – thanks to growing up in 1970’s Boston and the vibrant rock scene (Boston, Aerosmith, Morphine…you know…) my hearing has suffered a bit. Oh, and at 60, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.
Day-to-day, I don’t really think about these things as an impairment to my living, because, mostly, they aren’t – a hearing aid and glasses takes care of it. But there are millions for whom the impairment is more severe, and, as an Experiential Design firm, we are at our best when we consider designing from a Universal Access perspective.
Universal Access is a design approach which calls for integrating all access disciplines – audio, visual, physical, ambulatory, color blindness, etc. – so that our designs offer the lowest-friction, highest accessibility experience possible.
We apply this in our physical projects even beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act which structures much of our building and exhibit design work. Considerations such as quality and quantity of light, micro-speakers and their positioning, door access, visibility for all heights of people are part of all our work.
Recently, Keith Loris, CEO of our web design and marketing firm Sales Renewal, came to me and suggested we consider our web site from an accessibility perspective. Honestly, I had overlooked this part of the Experiential Design of interacting with Image4.com! As I looked at our site, certainly the font and text was readable, but a number of things jumped out as needing improvement – image tags and text, the speed at which images refreshed, etc. Immediately, we asked him to go to work.
We’ve learned so much about the nuances of accessibility and the Experience we should be delivering – from creating a “seizure-safe” profile to supporting cognitive disabilities, to simple things like cursor size and reading modes.
Sales Renewal implemented a software package which helped us become highly accessible in the virtual world and continues to review and approve the website to assure we’re doing things according to law and best practice.
We encourage you to take a look, and to try the adjustments available on the site. Because, “It’s About the Experience™”.
Image 4 President and Creative Director Jeffrey Baker
If you’re interested in seeing how an accessibility solution can help ALL of your website visitors, not just the ones with disabilities, navigate to www.SalesRenewal.com and click the universal accessibility icon at the bottom right part of your screen to test drive it yourself.
Let us know how we can bring digital accessibility to your business.