I’ve written recently about the digital divide, and the importance of taking responsibility for ensuring that when we build something, it’s accessible to all.
One element of this is exactly that, accessibility.
Those of you working in public sector digital will already be aware of the fact that gov.uk published guidance earlier this year on how to make a public sector website or app more accessible. This guidance was updated again in the past few weeks, and whilst it refers to public sector websites, it flags up three core things that all web developers would do well to be aware of.
In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability. So it isn’t something to be ignored. And it isn’t just visual impairments, but also deafness, cognitive impairments and motor difficulties. I run digi-buddies sessions at my local library, and once helped an older man with Parkinsons, which caused him no end of problems in navigating his way round a device, and a phone was a complete impossibility.
There are online tools and resources to help you do accessibility checks. It’s a good starting point, particularly if you’re short of budget. I’ve also worked with The Shaw Trust in the past, getting some of their team to test websites I’d built. It’s a real eye-opener watching people use a screen-reader reading at 4x normal reading speed (no pun intended!).
If you’re short on budget, don’t build an app, focus on making your website responsive, it’s much easier to keep up to date. And if you are in the public sector and you decide that a native app is the only way forward, consider opening up your data and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and see if you can partner with another business. Transport for London (TfL) opened up its APIs, which allowed some private sector businesses to build popular transport apps like Citymapper.