India has benefited hugely from the proliferation of the internet across its territory, yet there remains strong evidence that not every part of society has benefited. According to The Centre for Internet & Society, 60 million Indian people live with disability, and there are huge barriers to these people being able to access the web. Part of this is the rapid and ramshackle way in which web services have sprung up in India. While this now forms a digital foundation to launch better services from, it’s imperative that new services are accessible at the point of design – and therefore accessible. There are a few ways that developers can achieve this.
The good news for developers is that there is already a wealth of information out there on which to make adjustments. One area in which a lot of work has been done in terms of accessibility concerns people diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As noted by CPFN, a network that provides expert advice for improving cerebral palsy care, many of the challenges faced by those diagnosed involve motor function. This immediately can create problems with apps, which are often designed in a specific way. However, a January 2020 study published by JMIR noted that apps designed for the specific management of health conditions like cerebral palsy provide an easy template on which other app developers can base their efforts. The message is clear – look to expert apps as a foundation for being inclusive.
These adaptations and reasonable adjustments go hand in hand with the typical disability-oriented changes you might expect to see in an accessible app – voice activation; colour-blind mode; text-to-speech; and so on. Making these part of your platform from the outset is beneficial in terms of inclusivity, but also in the potential success of your app and/or business. Google and similar ranking algorithms rate accessibility features highly, with voice activation being of particular interest. Fulfil this, and you can be reasonably confident that you’re likely to gain more exposure and, as a result, a wider user base.
When designed in this manner, apps can have a wonderful impact on the overall quality of life that people living with disability experience. A study published by Taylor Francis Online noted how the EasenAccess app, used in New Delhi to help people living with disability effectively access government buildings and tourist attractions, had helped to drastically improve their access to these services and, as a result, their ability to obtain gainful employment. By empowering the people who need these services the most, their quality of life is improved, and so are their onward chances in life.
This is the crux of the need for accessible design – inclusivity. Rather than neglecting a whole section of society in design, making it inclusive from day one is an incredible way to behave ethically, grow your user base, and improve society. Make it part of your design philosophy.
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