Enabling Inclusion Through Digital – An Environment Where All Are Welcome

In blog by Neil BeamLeave a Comment

Inclusion is a common term these days in the news, at work, and individual conversations. This concept typically includes gender, race, age, language, and ethnicity topics, to name a few.

Friday 23 - October - 2020
Neil Beam

Another type of inclusion is accessibility of digital experiences for those who have a visual, auditory, or physical impairment. An impairment of this type is fairly common. For example, 15% of the US population has a visual impairment, up to 35% of purchase decisions are influenced or directly conducted by individuals with an impairment. Another important type of inclusion is localization and language support considering digital products are now involved in so many aspects of our everyday lives. Consider that the second most common language spoken in the US is Spanish at just over 13% of the population.

At Baufest, we strive to enable inclusion in an increasingly digital world by developing mobile apps, web sites, processes, and integrations that account for a whole range of diverse and inclusive needs from our clients. The audience for these capabilities covers end-user customers, employees, and partners. Accessibility is just one part of Baufest’s digital inclusion work that also encompasses: multi-lingual capabilities, localization, user personalization, data handling, and privacy such as HIPPA, GDPR.

Yes, developing an inclusive product IS more expensive – by 12% to 15% when accessibility is considered from the very beginning of design and the team is experienced. However, remediating an existing product that has already been released to end-users is even more expensive and can cost as much as 100% of the original front-end build cost. As an exercise, look at the accessibility features on your iPhone or Android mobile phone and consider the effort and expertise needed to effectively use those features for your business use-case.

The great news is that the costs of creating inclusive digital products typically has returns that generates measurable ROI that offsets the additional costs. Specifically, inclusive, and accessible products perform better because they are better designed. The additional focus up-front on customer’s needs, use-cases, and the problems THEY have results in improved feature and field usage as well as task accomplishment. Screen layouts, application flows, buttons and even references to help that account for different languages, localization, screen readers, and buttons with embedded context have been designed to account for nuance and user context that forces a product team to think like an end user and make careful decisions about the experience they want to have unfold. Inclusive products, in essence shift success definitions away from simply achieving requirements and towards the needs of your end user.

Finally, consider that inclusion impacts every department of a company including sales, customer service, marketing, HR, legal, operations and finance, to name a few. Are any of the experiences ‘dark’ for your customers, employees or partners?

At Baufest, we build new and remediate existing applications for accessibility and inclusion. We achieve ROI because our approach accounts for end-user needs from the beginning. A typical development process looks like: research –> design –> engineering –> QA –> UAT; but when we start our evaluation of new or existing applications, we shift accessibility all the way left in the sequence. Think about blueberry muffins – you can add blueberries on top after the muffins are baked, but the muffins are best when the blueberries are folded into the batter. When retrofitting and remediating existing applications, our works starts with both an assessment of the applications and our client’s goals because often, more than just accessibility must be addressed.

In closing, building accessible digital products is not only the law, it is good business and the moral thing to do. As you consider your business and future priorities, I leave you with these valuable information points:

  • >70% of the internet and employee facing applications are inaccessible.
  • 15% of households have a family member with a disability.
  • 35% of purchase decisions are made by or influenced by people with a disability.
  • Customer-facing and job postings that are accessible sites are SEO friendly.

Continue reading more about Baufest and our work here

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