Why ICT Accessibility?
Reasons for ICT accessibility include the ageing population; the proclivity to bring disabled people into the mainstream of society; an increasing recognition that ICT accessibility can be a tool for commercial growth and growing anti-discrimination legislation.
The world's population is aging and, in developed countries, the size of the elderly population has already surpassed that of the 12 - 24 age group. For example: current Eurostat statistics show that there are over 375 million people in the 15 countries of the European Union. Over 77 million - 20 per cent, or one in five - are 60 years of age or more.
It is well documented that both the number of older people is increasing and their proportion in the total population. This is due to decline in the birth rate, increase in life expectancy and a decrease in mortality rates at higher ages. Eurostat predicts that most EU regions will see the number of older people (60 years and over) double by 2030. A further Eurostat prediction is that the proportion of people aged 80 and over, currently 4 per cent of the European population, will soar to 10 per cent by 2050. As well as the incidence of disability increasing with age, so does the severity of impairments.
The majority of people with disabilities are elderly. As the proportion of older people grows, so will the number of people with disabilities.
Improving ICT accessibility for the widest range of people expands a businesses customer base and so therefore increases marketability. They stand to benefit from:
- higher quality products, services and facilities
- increased sales, customer satisfaction and loyalty
- stronger brand values and enhanced brand recognition
- greater profitability and improved returns on investment
The rights of disabled people to be treated equally are enshrined in many national and international laws. IT is either explicitly or implicitly referred to in many of these statutes because it is such an important part of every day living. In many countries new laws relating to accessibility are being introduced and existing ones strengthened.
The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 introduced new measures aimed at ending the discrimination which many disabled people face in their everyday lives. The DDA 2005 made important changes to the scope of the original legislation, including creating a legal duty for public authorities to actively promote disability equality - Disability Equality Duty.
Organisations are required by the Act to make reasonable adjustments to the way they supply services so that they include disabled people. Those reasonable adjustments cover websites (they are regarded as supplying a public service), and the hardware and software used by both employees and customers to access IT systems.
The USA has passed the most detailed and far reaching laws relating to accessible IT. For example: Section 508.
i2010 is the EU policy framework for the information society and media. It promotes the positive contribution that ICT can make to the economy, society and personal quality of life.
ICT accessibility is simply the right thing to do!
- EDeAN (n.d.) Design for All Education and Training: Design for All overview. [accessed 09/05/08].
- International Monetary Fund (2006). Finance and Development [online]. Global demographic trends. 43(3). [accessed 18/05/08].
- Lamb, J. (2007). The IT Directors' Guide to Accessible IT. [accessed 14/05/08].
- Ricability (2004). Meeting the needs of older and disabled consumers: Guidelines for product design and testing. [accessed 18/05/08].
Last updated: 20.11.2009 © Copyright reserved Website design: Digital Accessibility Team