Article by Ran Ronan/Courtesy of Forbes
For most people, the internet is a ubiquitous social hub, economic driver and professional facilitator as billions of people access web content every day. In fact, about 30% of U.S. adults say they are online "almost constantly." However, these opportunities are significantly more limited for the more than 36 million blind people who operate in a digital-first landscape with few resources to navigate this environment without compromise.
While assistive technologies like screen readers have improved the capacity for visually impaired people to interact with the internet, existing solutions are far from adequate. As one Wired headline laments, “The internet is for everyone, right? Not with a screen reader.” According to an annual analysis by WebAim of more than one million home pages, just 2.6% meet popular accessibility standards, and “accessibility blocks” — coding errors that restrict a screen reader’s usability — are everywhere.
The experience is akin to a store offering customers wheelchairs and ramps while configuring its aisles too narrowly for them to pass. If a service doesn’t comprehensively solve a problem, its efficacy is limited at best.
Better software solutions can bridge the gap for today's digital platforms, providing simple yet advanced web interfaces that promote accessibility and inclusivity. Unfortunately, many SMBs and even large corporations lack the financial resources or technical know-how to achieve compliance without fundamentally compromising the website’s experience.
The recent pandemic makes this even more urgent as “digital-first” now applies to everything from social engagement to professional responsibilities. To truly make the web a more inclusive place, we need to all be on a mission to create a solution-driven web experience that will be loved and endorsed by people with visual impairments.