According to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disability, about 15 per cent of the world’s population is disabled.
That means more than a billion people have to deal with some kind of disability.
But despite this demographic being so large, many companies are just beginning to make accessibility a priority.
Some businesses are doing it solely because its their legal obligation, some believe it’s a moral imperative, and others will just look at it as a shrewd business decision.
Whether it’s avoiding fines and lawsuits, improving your reputation, or gaining new customers, companies that accommodate disabled people stand to reap many benefits.
And over the last few years, several tech companies have been promoting technologies that will help the disabled, especially when it comes to web accessibility standards.
If you want your website to be more accessible and meet all the requirements outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, check out The Best Media’s AODA compliance service.
5 Tech Giants That are Making Web Accessibility Standards a Priority
To be fair, even though many companies have been dragging their asses on this, accessing the web has never been easier for the disabled.
No doubt, part of the reason for this is the legislation compelling companies to implement web accessibility standards.
But what’s even more significant is that businesses are finally realizing all the benefits of making their products and services more accessible.
Here are some of the tech giants that are helping to make accessing the web easier for people with disabilities.
Back in 2011, the Facebook Accessibility Team was formed, with the goal of making Facebook more accessible to people with disabilities.
Since then, Facebook has rolled out numerous improvements to the accessibility of its platform, including:
- Keyboard shortcuts, which allow people who can’t use a mouse to more easily navigate and perform actions on the site
- Navigation assistance, which makes navigating the website less tedious for those who rely on keyboard shortcuts or screen readers
- Closed captioning on videos, including automatic caption generation and support for real-time closed captions on live videos
Google’s accessibility team was launched in 2013 to oversee employee training and user research related to disabilities and ensure all its products are accessible.
Today, all of Google’s products undergo a standardized accessibility test, just as they would for things like privacy and security.
Here are some of the things Google’s been doing to make things more accessible for disabled people:
- Chromebooks now come with ChromeVox, a free screen reader to help visually-impaired users.
- Google Maps now provides wheelchair accessible routes for several cities, including Boston, London, Mexico City, New York, Sydney and Tokyo.
- Google has announced an upcoming app called Lookout, which will help the visually-impaired to navigate their environment by doing things like letting them know when objects are in the way.
Instagram hasn’t put a huge focus on accessibility, but it’s announced some new features to make its website more accessible for the visually-impaired.
In a recent blog post from Instagram, the social media giant referred to these features as “first steps toward creating a more accessible Instagram.”
The two changes include a feature that uses object recognition technology to generate descriptions of photos, and an option for users to make custom descriptions of their photos.
Both improvements allow the visually-impaired to understand what’s contained in Instagram photos by providing descriptions that they can hear using a screen reader.
Microsoft prides itself on being an innovator of accessibility technologies.
The tech mammoth’s AI for Accessibility program is committing $25 million over the next five years to help disabled people around the world.
In addition to this program, here are some other things Microsoft has been doing to improve accessibility for the disabled:
- Its Ease of Access settings have been improved, adding new keyboard shortcuts, and allowing users to make everything on their screen bigger and/or brighter.
- Windows Narrator has been upgraded to make it more responsive, and has new features, such as the ability to change volume, pitch, or reading speed to denote formatting such as bolded, capitalized, italicized or underlined text.
- The company has released Seeing AI, a free app that helps the visually impaired by “turning the visual world into an audible experience.” The app can recognize and narrate numerous things using your phone’s camera, such as barcodes, colours, currency, handwriting, and it can even describe people, including their emotions.
Since 2013, Twitter has been putting a focus on improving the accessibility of its platform.
It even has a dedicated accessibility team, with its own Twitter Accessibility account, which posts about accessibility updates and encourages users to provide feedback.
Here are some of the web accessibility features offered by Twitter:
- Support for screen reader software, including VoiceOver for Mac users, as well as NVDA and JAWS for those using Windows
- The ability to increase colour contrast, which helps those with sensitivity to low contrast
- The option to add alt text descriptions to photos, which lets you write up to 420 characters describing the image, allowing the visually-impaired to know what’s displayed in photos
Want to improve the accessibility of your website, just like these massive tech companies? Contact The Best Media and let our web accessibility experts take care of it for you.