Why Accessibility Matters

Some of you may read that title and think, “Duh – of course accessibility matters!”. While others may not understand the full scope of what accessibility means and how it impacts the lives of all of us – not just those with vision, fine motor, hearing, reading, or other disabilities that effect the way they interact with technology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in July 2015 that estimates 53 million adults in the United States has a disability. That’s only accounting for adults 18 years and older. They also published Faststats, which breaks down the categories of disability with the number of adults effected. I want to highlight these numbers because early in my career transition to web development I was talking with a game developer about helping me work on a project for the significantly disabled students I was working with. He said there wasn’t a market for the game I wanted to build. His head was in the sand.

I’m not going to lecture about why we need to build websites, apps, and tools that are accessible. Instead I want to share a recent experience I had where I benefited from an accessible web component. Nearly everyone has forgotten a password and needed to reset it by clicking on the CAPTCHA and entering a series of letters or numbers. Well, I forgot my Apple password for the umpteenth time and had to reset it. However, the CAPTCHA was illegible – just garbled letters and numbers overlapping one another. I tried three different images and no luck. So I clicked on the audio button and viola! It worked. Had Apple not had that component built into their password reset page, I would have been locked out of my account, had to call or email into tech support and wasted a lot of time. My point should be obvious. Making technology accessible not only helps those who require it, it can help all users have a better experience.


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