You are thinking about making your website digitally accessible, or maybe you already have a digitally accessible website. Great job! But how do you ensure that you remain digitally accessible? What if you want to add new content or functionalities to your website?
What is digital accessibility?
Let's start by defining what digital accessibility is. Digital accessibility or digital inclusion means that all people - whether they have a disability or not - can use the possibilities that the internet, computers, and smartphones offer us. This way, everyone can participate in society.
Why is this important?
In the Netherlands, four million people have a disability. These are people with a visual, auditory, or cognitive disability, but also people with dyslexia or color blindness. For example, they may have difficulty with insufficient color contrast or an unclear navigation structure. From a societal perspective, you want your digital channels to be accessible.
From a business perspective, it is also interesting: with a digitally accessible website or app, you can reach four million people. And it doesn't stop there, as this group is growing. The aging population means that there are more elderly people, and there are also more migrants who do not speak the Dutch language. Outside the Netherlands, digital accessibility is even more interesting. In Europe alone, you can reach an additional 87 million people, as one in five Europeans has a disability. If you look beyond European borders, the potential extra reach is enormous.
Making your website or app accessible also has other benefits. For example, search engines can better search your website. This makes your website more visible on Google and other search engines. In addition, you can reduce the burden on your customer service by helping people use your digital channels independently.
Finally, the European Accessibility Act requires that websites and mobile apps of financial service providers and e-commerce companies must be digitally accessible by 2025. Digital accessibility has been mandatory for all Dutch government agencies for years. Websites and apps must be accessible based on the 'apply or explain' policy. Since July 1, 2018, government agencies are also legally obliged to comply with accessibility requirements.
How do you remain digitally accessible?
So how do you ensure that your website remains digitally accessible? Adding new content or functionalities can hinder your accessibility. To remain digitally inclusive, you must therefore take accessibility into account in your organizational and development processes.
According to the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model, organizations that are consciously engaged in digital accessibility can be divided into five phases:
- Ad hoc
- In control
An organization in the ad hoc phase does not record anything and works primarily reactively. The repeatable phase is characterized by an organization that describes processes and performs them in the same way each time. This organization does not yet control processes. An organization in the standardized phase does. An organization in the in-control phase continuously measures digital accessibility and adjusts where necessary. Organizations in the refinement phase work systematically and proactively on digital inclusivity.
Prevent errors with test automation
Even if you consciously design for people with disabilities, it can happen that you accidentally create something that threatens accessibility - a situation you naturally want to prevent. You can do this through test automation. The GX test platform tests pages for digital accessibility. For example, it looks at the contrast between text and background color and the structure of a page. It also scans for missing link texts and alt texts. Within a few seconds, you get a report with concrete recommendations to make the tested page accessible. You can incorporate these automated tests into your standard processes, such as your Definition of Done in an Agile methodology like Scrum. This way, you stay in control of your digital accessibility.
Test automation for accessibility
Want to know what test automation can do for your digital accessibility? At GX, we have extensive experience with digital accessibility and test automation. We have previously written a blog about the do's and don'ts of test automation. Want to know how our test platform fits into your software development process? Contact Bart!