Priorities in Product: Why Accessibility & Why Now?
By Kelsey H., Head of Accessibility
Accessibility for Everyone
We all have priorities and our reasons behind what drives us. For a large organization like ADP, we must align our priorities across our teams. This means we prioritize accessibility in our products and services because it is both a business imperative and a competitive advantage.
In this blog, we will discuss why we do what we do, the people who drive action, and priorities establishing what is important to us and when.
The Business Case for Accessibility
Accessibility is not only about making products and services accessible to users with disabilities, and it's not just about bug fixes and potential tech debt. It's so much more!
1) Drives Innovation - Accessibility features in products and services often solve unanticipated problems.
So often, we lean into the 80/20 principle. But, if we flip this narrative and instead become intentional about recognizing our exclusion areas, we can solve for the edges (the 20%) – which we know solves for many (including the 80%). This allows us to become more innovative, pushing the bounds of what we're used to – if we're always designing for ourselves, it's valid to ask, "Are we designing for everyone?" The 20% are naturally very innovative people, particularly since they are so often left behind.
Ultimately, recognizing instances of exclusion provides the opportunity to solve for one and extends to many. In doing this, we learn from diversity and better apply this learning at scale.
2) Extends Market Reach - The global market of people with disabilities is over one billion, with a spending power of over $6 trillion. Accessibility often improves the online experience for everyone.
Disability is often misunderstood. Disability is broader than permanent disabilities a person may be born with or acquire during their lifetime; disabilities can also be temporary (a broken arm), situational (visiting another country and not speaking their native language), or transient (experiencing migraines). When we reconceptualize what we believe is true about disability, we understand the reach is far greater than we ever imagined.
3) Minimizes Legal Risk - Many countries have laws requiring digital accessibility, which increases legal concerns.
There are many laws globally protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and requiring access to physical and digital spaces. For example, the US has several laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
At ADP, we strive to conform to international standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the web's governing body. They have several international working groups that set the standard for digital accessibility, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (which informs the standards in section 508) globally.
We also aspire to conform to WCAG 2.1 (or the most current version) level AA, which includes everything in level A. Soon, WCAG 2.2 will become an official recommendation by the W3C (~August 2023).
Prioritize Future You
Remember, we aren't only conceptualizing, designing, and building products and services for the "current us," we're also creating products and services for the "future us" – whoever that version of you may be and for whatever abilities that version of you may have.
I promise – in the future, you will thank the current you for embarking on this accessibility journey.
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