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Improve the experience for many by helping just one

2 minutes read

It's easy to get caught up in the abstract notion of catering to the needs of all people with disabilities. We talk about it in meetings, plan for it in designs and strive to implement it in code. But sometimes, the enormity of the task can feel overwhelming, even paralyzing.

The truth is it's hard to work to talk about helping people with disabilities in the abstract, but it's easier to relate to helping just one person.

Meet Bob.

Bob is someone you know - a regular user of your product. He's the guy who relies on your website every day. Bob appreciates the effort you put into making your website and providing an invaluable service, and when he trips on a snag, he calmly reaches out to your customer support team for assistance.

Bob is a regular user of your product, but not just any user. Bob also has a disability. He's partially blind and relies on a screen reader to use your site.

When you help Bob, you're helping everyone like him, plus thousands of others. It's not just people who are blind and partially blind that use a screen reader.

Yes, the majority of screen reader users are visually impaired. But to say they are the only ones who will benefit from accessibility improvements made on your website would be unwise. According to the WebAIM screen reader survey, about 3.5% of respondents are neither blind nor visually impaired.

10% use a screen reader even when they declared they don't have a disability. Think about people with lower literacy, non-native speakers or anybody who prefers to listen to your content.

When you design with Bob in mind, you're not just ticking off compliance boxes or fulfilling a legal requirement. You're actively helping Bob and other people like him who rely on your website.

Remember that by helping him, you're making a meaningful difference in the lives of countless others. By helping one user that you know, you’re already helping hundreds more that you don’t.

Did you enjoy this bite-sized message?

I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

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