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According to the WHO, there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Knowing that we can assume that every 8th person on the planet suffers from a condition that affects their life in a way. When developing applications and websites, this information should be kept in mind.
There are different types of disabilities. Most common ones are:
- People with visual impairments
This category includes blind people, people with limited vision, color blindness, astigmatism, and other visual pathologies. According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired: 39 million are blind, and 246 have low vision.
- People with hearing impairments
This category includes deaf people and those hard of hearing. According to the WHO’s fact sheet on Deafness and Hearing Loss, 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.
- People with reduced mobility (PRM)
This category includes people whose mobility is limited due to some physical or mental disabilities, age, or other causes requiring special attention and adaptation to their needs. This type of disability affects 1 in 7 adults.
- People with cognitive impairments
This category includes the broadest range of disabilities: mental illnesses, learning, understanding, or concentration difficulties (such as ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc. Cognitive impairments affect 1 in 9 adults.
How technologies help people with disabilities
Life of people with disabilities has become much easier with the adoption of modern technologies. Nowadays, among all of the breakthrough inventions, you can find:
- Advanced communication aids that help those unable to communicate verbally;
- Robotic limbs that fully restore the mobility of amputated arms and legs;
- Seizure monitoring devices aimed at preventing injuries from happening;
- Smart wheelchairs able to navigate stairs and other obstacles on the way etc.
Some of those inventions are incredibly expensive, obviously, not everyone can afford such devices. But still, there are free things from the tech world that can help people with disabilities. The internet, for instance. Adapting apps and websites for disabled people is a top-priority rule for most developers.
Digital Accessibility Regulations
Digital accessibility is widely regulated around the world. Even smaller companies should make their products accessible and comfortable for everyone.
Here’s a list of acts from different countries concerning people with disabilities:
- Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act of 1992
- European Union’s European Accessibility Act (EAA)
- Ireland’s Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004
- Israel’s Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act
- South Korea’s Act on Welfare of Persons with Disabilities
- United Kingdom’s Equality Act of 2010
- Ontario, Canada’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Title III of the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Companies whose interfaces do not meet international standards pay huge fines, and with each claim, these fines increase. For example, in 2022 in America, an average fine for a first claim was $43,000.
JetRuby’s experience in developing accessible interfaces
We can divide our experience in this area into several cases. The first case is us working on a new product and creating an interface. Thus, we create a UI Kit taking into account the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. To do this, we check the contrast of colors, font sizes, the distance between words and letters, etc.
Checking how colorblind people would see.
The second case is us conducting an audit on someone’s interface for accessibility. Here we analyze the current interface and, depending on the rules of the country a customer lives in, describe the critical points, after which we iteratively adapt applications.
Example of such work: A customer came to us requesting to audit their interface. As a result, we revealed some flaws related to the design and frontend. Then we filed a report on the work done, sent it to the customer, and implemented the changes iteratively.
The first thing we did was select colors that meet the requirements of accessibility:
All interface layouts have been redone using new colors. The result showed that the interface with new colors suits the AAA contrast level, making it comfortable to interact with.
Revising colors for people with color blindness showed that there will be deviations in colors, but this is normal. The key thing here is that these colors shouldn’t merge, and users are able to see highlights. As you can see, the colors are significantly different in each segment.
An example of a page adapted for different types of color blindness and a contrast check.
The next step was to write the headers for the interfaces so that the developers could add them to the code. We have increased the minimum font size from 12pt to 16pt.
For people with cognitive disabilities, we conducted card sorting. Based on that, we made changes in the menu, transition logic, and other minor things on the development side.
The third condition is us working with a company for a long time and monitoring the relevance of layouts, global requirements, and the market.
In this case, we put the requirements for changes in the Roadmap, considering accessibility.
One of the latest examples of such work is an application that contains a video player. We have added the feature of enabling subtitles right in this player, which is essential for people with hearing problems. In the future, we also plan to add a description of the entire text as a separate interface element. Read more about our design practices.
The JetRuby team understands and always takes into consideration special needs of people with various conditions. In our work we always seek positive user experience and encourage others to achieve that too.
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