With over 15% of the world’s population living with some form of disability, it’s more important than ever to ensure that digital platforms follow the best Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) practices. Over time, the ever-evolving digital landscape has come to adopt more features to accommodate more people. However, new trends are always on the horizon helping make the web more accessible for all. Here are 10 accessibility trends we’ve been paying attention to in 2023.
E-Accessibility, or electronic accessibility, is the practice of making online information and services accessible to people with disabilities. This includes features like video captions, image descriptions, virtual keyboards, and translation tools for Sign Language. By incorporating e-accessibility features, businesses can reach a wider audience and provide a better user experience for all.
2. Inclusive Brands
Today, brands that value DEIA initiatives are well-received by consumers and entice them to engage with your company. This trend goes beyond physical accessibility, extending to representation in campaigns and inclusion initiatives in internal processes. Companies that position themselves as inclusive brands are likely to stand out in the market. By embracing diversity and inclusion, businesses can foster a positive brand image, attract a broader customer base, and drive business growth.
3. Artificial Intelligence
AI is playing a significant role in promoting accessibility. Technologies like virtual assistants and chatbots assist people with visual, hearing, or motor disabilities in their interactions with electronic devices. AI can also be applied to the automatic translation of Sign Languages, reducing communication barriers. The integration of AI in digital accessibility is not just a trend; it’s a revolution that’s transforming the way we interact with digital platforms. By leveraging AI, businesses can provide more personalized and accessible experiences for their users.
4. Brand Positioning
Transparency and communication about DEIA are two key factors in brand positioning. Developing clear policies to ensure DEIA initiatives are being integrated correctly and ethically will help companies run well inside and out. Society also expects companies to be transparent about their inclusive practices as well as their commitment to further initiatives.
5. Demand for Accessibility Professionals
As companies seek to adapt their products and services to be more accessible, the demand for professionals specialized in accessibility is growing. This includes experts in web development, graphic design, and people management. By investing in accessibility professionals, businesses can ensure that their digital platforms are designed and developed with accessibility in mind, leading to a better user experience for all.
6. Voice User Interface
Voice User Interface (VUI) is a significant trend in digital accessibility. VUI allows users to interact with a website or application using voice commands. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with visual impairments or motor disabilities who may find traditional navigation methods challenging. By integrating VUI into their digital platforms, businesses can provide a more accessible and user-friendly experience. Voice-activated devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have become more prevalent, broadening the market for VUI in digital accessibility.
7. Inclusive Design
Inclusive design aims to create products, environments, and services that can be used by all people, regardless of their abilities or characteristics. This includes considering the needs of all individuals, whether they have a permanent, temporary, or situational disability, from the beginning of the creation process. By adopting inclusive design principles, businesses can create digital platforms that are not only accessible but also intuitive and easy to use for all users.'
8. Accessible Events
The organization of virtual events has also seen a large rise since the start of the pandemic, but the trend has still continued. It’s crucial for events to provide appropriate structures and resources to guarantee the full participation of people with disabilities. This includes providing ASL interpreters, materials in accessible formats, and physical accessibility in spaces. By organizing accessible events, businesses offer everyone the opportunity to participate and engage, leading to more inclusive and prosperous events.
Shine Music Festival is one example of a fully accessible event. The Colorado-based non-profit organization utilizes state-of-the-art adaptive technology and comprehensive accessibility measures to ensure that live music events can be enjoyed by everyone, with particular attention to accessibility for the disability community.
9. AI Chatbots
Online chatbots have been a part of websites and even computers for a while. However, with the advent of AI, accessibility has exponentially gotten better. They can answer people’s questions and concerns accurately and quickly while engaging with web pages. Features like text-to-speech, keyboard navigation, and response time management can be combined with these AI-powered chatbots to establish their role as a web accessibility solution. By integrating AI-powered chatbots, businesses can provide more interactive and accessible experiences for their users.
10. Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual and augmented reality technologies are being used to create more immersive and accessible experiences. These technologies can allow users with disabilities to practice in an immersive and engaging environment that is catered to their learning style and help them succeed in potentially difficult tasks. With real-time feedback, learning can become a lot more streamlined and less stressful, and less consuming.
As we move through 2023, DEIA initiatives and trends will play a crucial role in shaping the future of online businesses and websites. By embracing these, businesses can ensure that their digital platforms are inclusive and accessible to all, enhancing their user experience and expanding their reach. However, it’s important to note that, accessibility is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. By prioritizing accessibility, businesses can create a more inclusive digital world where everyone can participate fully.