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The IT Pro Podcast: Why digital accessibility is good for business

Making your apps disability-friendly isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s an overall benefit too

The IT Pro Podcast: Why digital accessibility is good for business

An inclusive workplace isn’t just about supporting people of different genders, sexual orientations or races. Almost 20% of the UK has some form of disability, and it’s important to make sure that our offices, applications and services are set up in a way that is accessible to these people.

There are many reasons why this is a good idea; aside from being a legal requirement and a moral imperative, it can bring usability and productivity improvements for all your staff and customers, not just those with impairments. Joining us this week to discuss accessibility tech, digital inclusion and the benefits that it can bring to your organisation is Robin Christopherson, head of digital inclusion at UK charity AbilityNet.

You can get in touch with AbilityNet by calling 0800 04 876 42, or emailing inquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

Highlights

“The RNIB, the Royal National Institute for the Blind here in the UK, did some brilliant research, where they got a bunch of visually impaired people to look at a range of websites. And obviously, the sites that were accessible were easier to use for them. But the most interesting part of that research was the control group of able-bodied testers that had no disability or impairment, didn't do anything differently about accessing websites, the sites that were accessible were also easier for them to use; they were able to complete the tasks on average 35% more quickly. So you get this 35% usability bonus. Every developer and designer, they stress about how to optimise the UI and the UX and make it a really good experience. WCAG is a shortcut to a really massive leap in usability for every single user.”

“AI is massively important. But it also has this darker side, where bots driven by machine learning are, for example, trying to submit forms. And that's why you have the evil that is CAPTCHA having to exist, so something like Google's ‘I'm not a robot’ tick box only works if you're not a keyboard user, which I am. Because that region on a web page just around that tick box and message is monitored for mouse movement towards the checkbox. It doesn't monitor mouse movement across the rest of the site, because that would be far too creepy. But around that area, Google is allowed to monitor your mouse movement towards that tick box. And if it's sufficiently wobbly, then it’s fine. 

If you tab to it and hit the spacebar, which is what I would do, then most of the time, you will get the other CAPTCHA challenge coming up, which is increasingly obscured pictures of traffic signals or whatever it might be. And the reason why that's becoming increasingly difficult to see is because the AI is getting increasingly better at recognising those images, and successfully completing the CAPTCHA. So it's an arms race.”

Read the full transcript here.

Footnotes

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