A short post to help define these terms
Usually, when they hear “Accessibility” most people think: screen readers, wheelchairs, and more recently they might even think of dyslexia for example. But there is much more to it:
In the UK, 1 in 5 people are disabled
The concept of accessibility doesn’t just apply to disabled people — all users will have different needs at different times and in different circumstances.
The World Health Organization defines disability as:
“a mismatch in interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live.“
The impairment can be permanent, temporary or situational, but in the end, it’s the same requirements:
Assisted Digital – Digital exclusion
Sometimes people need help to use services online. This is known as assisted digital support.
Any user may need assisted digital support, if they lack:
- trust in your service or the internet
- confidence to use an online service themselves
- access to the internet
- digital skills
- motivation to overcome these barriers on their own
A recent study shows that almost one-fifth of Britons ‘do not use internet’.
In this article, from the BBC, you get a better idea of the various reasons why people don’t use internet:
- 10% do not use the net because of privacy worries
- 40% of those earning less than £12,500 do not go online
- 70% of all respondents “uncomfortable” with targeted advertising and data tracking
- 12% have been hit by computer viruses
- 11% got abusive emails
Just like for accessibility, users will have different needs at different times and in different circumstances
- you might be comfortable doing online shopping but struggle for a specific task like uploading a document or taking a photo with your phone
- you’re visiting an area where there is nearly no signal or simply travelling on a train
- you have hardly any data left on your account, no or slow internet access
- you are applying online to get some support because you have been assaulted, or just lost someone, or about to lose your home
In Scotland – Digital exclusion
About 1 in 7 people in Scotland can’t get online. This is about 800,000 people.
There are various reasons:
- money: can’t afford a device, to pay for broadband/data, or to get the assistive devices they need
- lives in an area with poor infrastructure
- lack confidence to use an online service themselves
- lack digital skills
We usually don’t realise how many are affected:
- 2 in 10 adults in Scotland lack basic digital skills
- 1 in 10 have no digital skills (find info, order shopping online or fill in a form)
- 13% of households have no internet access at home (17% for the lowest income households)
- 1 in 8 adults do not use the internet at all
- The economic impact of Digital Inclusion in the UK
- Measure to assess users’ digital competency
- Location, Privilege and Performant Websites
This is a broader term: Inclusive design is about designing for a diverse range of people. Whatever their gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, social class, communications abilities or culture.
- if your service is not accessible, then you are not inclusive of people with accessibility needs
- if your service online is accessible, but you don’t offer an alternative for assisted digital users, then you are not inclusive either
Common inclusion issues in services
For example asking for:
- your gender when it might not even be needed or in a way that doesn’t allow you to identify yourself correctly
- your title or marital status
- parents information in terms which exclude same-sex-parenting
Bakken & Bæck, a digital studio based in Oslo, Bonn and Amsterdam, have a very good Diversity and Inclusion guide if you want to learn more.
You can also check their A to Z Inclusion and diversity glossary.
This post was written to become part of the resources we will share on the Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday 21 May 2020.