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Blog | 21 August 2020

Making Digital Accessibility a Priority

James - Associate Product Manager
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In the current world of consumerism, we like to concentrate on the next update and the next big release. It’s easy to measure success by the speed at which something is created and if it works, getting content ready and out there as quick as possible. 

It’s important to be up to date, but by focusing too much on getting something to work it’s easy to miss who it works for, and often accessibility gets left behind.

According to government research in 2014 there were over 11 million people living with impairment or disability in the UK, and searches for ‘digital accessibility’ are at a 5 year high. It’s vital then to incorporate the principles of accessibility into our digital platform/website, and recently we’ve made a commitment to providing a platform for everyone, regardless of abilities.

What is Digital Accessibility?

One definition of accessibility is: “Designs which should be usable by people of diverse abilities, without special adaption or modification”. Accessibility can be seen in handles on doors, or ramps to entrances and braille next to lettering. In short, it’s an inclusive approach to design.
Digital accessibility is the design of online content and platforms with this inclusive approach in mind and can be applied to websites, apps, videos, and everything online.

Disabilities can commonly be grouped into five categories:

Visual – Blindness or colour-blindness.
Hearing – Hard of hearing or deafness.
Speech – Speech impediment or being unable to speak.
Motor or Physical – Inability to use a mouse or paralysis.
Cognitive– Reading and understanding difficulties, or dyslexia.

Many people with these disabilities use assistive technology, such as screen readers to help them. But with the recent focus on digital events such as The Great Indoors Weekender it becomes clear that digital accessibility is part of usability, and not addressing digital accessibility means that no matter how good or inclusive an event, it’s excluding those less able.

There are some simple checks which can be done to test accessibility, such as trying to navigate a website without a mouse or using an online colour blindness simulator and we’ve listed some basic steps to improving a websites accessibility on our Commitment page.

Our Commitment

Our promise is to provide a platform for everyone regardless of literacy, physical abilities or technical experience. Making accessibility part of our user design is rooted in the movements’ commitment to diversity, inclusion and integrity.
Existing content is being checked to make sure it meets this commitment, such as our images and videos having captions and transcripts and our website layout designed to be used by everyone in all circumstances.

There are plenty of brilliant tools to help with this, such as online evaluations and visualisation apps. But this is not a one-off review, but instead a permanent commitment to making the website design and layout as simple and usable as possible on all devices. 

A key thing to remember is having this approach doesn’t just make our website accessible, but makes it usable by all. We’re guided by providing for young people in all walks of life, and providing them with skills for life and the chance of better futures. Only by allowing everyone to take part in Scouts can we do this, and making Digital Accessibility a priority is essential to this.

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