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An Introduction to Accessibility

Posted by: Virginia Clinton
on 02, Feb 2022
from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As the pandemic continues to play a very prevalent role in our lives, we’ve become that much more dependent on our technology, especially digital content. We throw around words like accessibility, inclusion, and accessible digital content, but do you know what it all means?

That’s what we’re hoping to help you better understand with this post. From understanding the basics of what a disability is to understanding accessibility and usability, we’re here to break things down for you.

What is a disability?

According to the United Nations, 15% of the population identifies as having a disability. A disability can be a permanent, situation, or temporary condition of the mind or body that limits a person’s ability to do certain activities and interact with the world around them due to environmental barriers. 

With over one billion people identifying themselves as having a disability, this community has been called the world’s largest minority group. This number is only going to increase as the population ages.

What is a print disability?

About 10% of people identify as having a print disability. This type of disability can be physical, mental, or emotional and prevents people from reading standard print.

What is accessibility?

When we use the term accessibility, we’re referring to someone’s ability to independently access and benefit from systems, products, or services in a way that best suits their needs.

Typically, the first things that seem to come to mind when folks hear the word accessibility are ramps to get into buildings for people using wheelchairs or braille on signage to help people with sight loss navigate their surroundings.

However, accessibility is so much more, especially when we think about the digital space.

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities, whether visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive, to access electronic resources, like websites, documents, and mobile apps, independently.

When you create digital content that’s accessible, you’re also creating a more navigable and user-friendly experience for people with and without disabilities.

You’ve probably heard of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and/or PDF/UA. If you’re confused about the two or how they work together, check out our other post entitled, Dispelling Accessibility Myths: PDF/UA vs. WCAG, to learn more.

Are accessibility and usability the same?

While some tend to use the terms accessibility and usability interchangeably, they’re not the same but rather work hand in hand to provide the best overall experience for users.

Usability refers to how easy it is to navigate and access digital content and software. Key factors to usability include customer satisfaction, intuitive design, and universal accessibility.

In the digital world, accessibility is about how well people can independently access documents, web and mobile platforms.

Poor design usually leads to poor accessibility and usability. As designers and communicators, it is our responsibility to incorporate key functions of usability and accessibility into everything we do.

How AbleDocs can help

At AbleDocs, we've made it our mission to push the limits of digital accessibility. If you’re starting on your accessibility journey or well on your way, AbleDocs is here to help.  With our suite of products and services, including training, we can help your organization create fully accessible and compliant digital content.

Get in touch to find out how you can meet the challenges of PDF accessibility.

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Since its founding in 2019, AbleDocs has become a world leader in digital accessibility with offices in nine countries. AbleDocs offers products and services to organizations that help to ensure high volume document accessibility compliance, document accessibility testing, accessibility training, and web accessibility compliance.

AbleDocs is the only company in the world to guarantee the compliance of every document they produce and back it with a $10,000,000 liability guarantee. Current offerings include ADService, ADGateway, ADScan, ADStream, ADLegacy, ADForms, ADTraining, ADWeb, axesWord and axesPDF.