The importance of accessible experiences cannot be overstated. Increased demand for inclusivity and user-friendly interfaces over 2023 has become imperative for brands 2to adopt in 2024. O3 experts delve into the reasons why accessible experiences will be even more impactful in the coming year, exploring the trends, technologies, and societal shifts that contribute to this necessary paradigm shift.
1) Inclusive design: A necessity, not a choice
Inclusive design has transitioned from being a good practice to a business necessity. Companies are recognizing the diverse needs of their user base and are increasingly adopting design principles that support users of all abilities. With an aging population and a growing awareness of accessibility challenges, businesses are prioritizing inclusivity to ensure that their products and services are accessible to everyone. The World Health Organization found that approximately 16% of the global population experiences some form of disability, equating to nearly 1.3 billion individuals who may require assistive tools and technologies to access online content.
2) Regulatory compliance and legal implications
The United States and governments around the world are becoming more stringent in enforcing digital accessibility standards. In 2024, adherence to accessibility guidelines is not just a best practice; it’s a legal requirement for many businesses. In fact, 20% of the top online retailers in the US faced accessibility-related lawsuits in 2022. The potential legal consequences of not providing accessible experiences, including fines and litigation, are driving organizations to invest in accessible design from the outset.
3) Advancements in assistive technologies
As technology continues to advance, so do assistive technologies designed to support the experience of individuals with disabilities. In 2024, we can expect to see more sophisticated software, tools, and devices that empower users with disabilities to interact seamlessly with digital content. This includes improved screen readers, voice recognition software, and other assistive technologies that make digital experiences more accessible to a broader audience.
4) Globalization and cultural diversity
As technology connects people across the globe in real-time, the importance of considering cultural and linguistic diversity has never been more crucial. Accessible experiences now go beyond supporting users with physical disabilities, requiring considerations that extend to ensuring language and cultural differences are taken into account. One approach that is now being considered in the accessibility landscape involves incorporating trauma-informed thinking into research and design practices. Multilingual interfaces, culturally appropriate design, and localized content are emerging as standard practices in the pursuit of global inclusivity.
5) Rising awareness and social responsibility
Societal awareness of the importance of inclusivity and accessibility is on the rise. Consumers are holding companies accountable for their social responsibilities, including providing accessible digital experiences. Brands that prioritize accessibility are not only meeting legal requirements but are also gaining a competitive edge by aligning with consumer values and expectations.
O3’s leading accessibility expert, Brian Crumley, is committed to learning from and monitoring other brands excelling in digital accessibility across all industries. Brian took the time to provide a list of companies across various markets that have strong accessibility foundations and continue to look for ways to better meet the needs of their users.
The UK government prioritizes inclusive design and ensuring that public services and information are accessible to everyone, fostering a more inclusive and equitable digital environment.
Sony Playstation stands out for its commitment to digital accessibility, designing controllers with features that cater to users with diverse abilities.
Tesco has implemented best practices and user-friendly design, ensuring that their online platforms are accessible to customers with varying accessibility considerations.
Barclays provides accessible banking services. By implementing accessible web design and inclusive features, Barclays ensures its digital platforms are usable for all customers.
The University of Notre Dame prioritizes inclusive practices in its online educational resources and platforms, ensuring that students, faculty, and visitors with diverse abilities can fully engage with the university’s digital offerings.
It’s worth noting that the University of Notre Dame’s commitment aligns with the May 2023, joint Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The letter emphasizes the ongoing efforts to address barriers preventing people with disabilities from participating in online services, programs, and activities offered by colleges and universities. A small and necessary step to prioritize inclusivity and access within higher education.
Starbucks is a leader in inclusive design for features on its website and mobile app. Customers of all abilities can easily access information, customize orders, and engage with the brand online.
6) Evolving user expectations
User expectations are evolving, and people now expect seamless and accessible digital experiences as a standard. As users become more digitally savvy, they demand interfaces that are easy to navigate, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. In 2024, businesses that fail to meet these expectations risk losing a significant portion of their user base to competitors who prioritize accessibility. Companies that prioritize accessibility are found to be four times as likely to outperform their competitors in total shareholder returns.
7) SEO and search engine algorithms
Search engines are placing increased importance on user experience, including accessibility. In 2024, search engine algorithms are likely to favor websites and digital platforms that provide accessible content. This not only improves the visibility of inclusive websites but also reinforces the business case for incorporating accessibility into digital strategies.
In 2024, you will play a crucial role in shaping the evolution of accessible experiences in the digital landscape. As technology advances, it’s essential for businesses to make sure that your digital offerings are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or background. O3’s expert team of Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) accessibility experts is here to simplify and support your brand throughout this process. Contact O3 to learn about our accessibility solutions.