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Ania Gajecka
Ania Gajecka

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Please, make your product accessible for everyone

Did you know that people with some kind of disability constitute about 1 billion of the population? Today is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and I would like to share some useful resources with you.

According to Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament accessibility

should be understood as principles and techniques to be observed when designing, constructing, maintaining, and updating websites and mobile applications in order to make them more accessible to users, in particular persons with disabilities.

You, as a software developer, may come across many disabilities, when thinking about potential users of your product:

  • vision impairment
  • deaf or hard of hearing
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • physical disability
  • cognitive impairment
  • mental health conditions
  • intellectual disability or acquired brain injury

This year on Polish track of A4Q World Congress Radek Smilgin, in his presentation Accessibility for all platforms and all people, mentioned that everybody was / is / will be "disabled". He evokes the example of an aging society - in 20 or 30 years our eyesight will deteriorate, our motor skills will no longer be fully functional, etc. If we all accept that at some point in our lives we will be disabled, our perception on the matter changes. Disability is no longer personal health condition, but mismatched human interaction with their environment or various interfaces. Designing our products for inclusivity not only opens up to more people with a wider range of abilities. It also means more potential clients for the product and in effect bigger return of investments.

After going through ischemic stroke of the left side of my brain in 2015, which caused temporary loss of speech and the paralysis of the right side of my body, I am one of these 1 billion people. I was 27 then, so thanks to the relatively young age, I mostly recovered. My motor skills however worsen in compare to times before-the-stroke, e.g. using a computer mouse with my right hand became very frustrating, with frequent tremors of my fingers, causing many unnecessary clicks. I learned to operate the mouse (or the touchpad in my laptop) with my left hand. Also, the Tab key was my new best friend. It's sad, that before the time of my own incapacity, I did not pay that much attention to accessibility.

But what can you do to include everyone in your application? According to Microsoft inclusive design principles you have to:

  • Recognize exclusion
  • Solve for one, extend to many
  • Learn from diversity

If you would like to learn more about the accessibility, here are some additional resources:

Top comments (4)

grahamthedev profile image

Nice to see so many posts on accessibility yesterday, especially interesting that you yourself suffered a stroke at 27...most people are not aware that there are a lot of younger people with acquired disabilities and I hope that you sharing your story is an eye opener for some people!

It's sad, that before the time of my own incapacity, I did not pay that much attention to accessibility.

That, unfortunately, is the big problem, very few people actually start caring about accessibility until it affects them personally / someone they are close to. We just have to keep nudging people and we will get there eventually! ❤

annadayl profile image
Ania Gajecka

Thanks for your comment! 💚

holdenmad profile image

Thank you for this perspective on accessibility. Specifically the idea that at some point every single one of us benefits from accessibility features, whether now or in the future as we age or have other health issues.

annadayl profile image
Ania Gajecka

Thanks for your comment! 😊