Let’s humanise the web so the next generation don’t need too!
What is the goal of accessibility? For me it is to design a digital world without barriers that allows all of us, to share, belong and collaborate regardless of our abilities. The digital world allows us to raise the game in terms of inclusion because it provides a quicker and more cost-effective method for delivering a better product or service than can be achieved in the physical world. Inclusive design is ultra modern and totally necessary because it unites rather than divides us. In a world where our differences can be addressed through equality we all must take responsibility for ensuring inclusive design becomes a standard rather than an approach that sits in the design fringes.
Accessibility, usability and creativity are not mutually exclusive
A digital user experience that is good for everyone must be usable, accessible and creative. Improvements have been happening since we started practicing inclusive design just over a decade ago, but we all have a long way to go before inclusive design is common practice rather than best-practice. However, it is still a common misconception that accessible websites provide less aesthetic appeal. We have been delivering accessible websites that do not compromise creativity since our inception because we consider accessibility from the outset and avoid the ‘bolt-on’ approach that can significantly undermine the user experience. The real issue is that whilst an accessible design provides better access to everyone the opposite is also true: a less accessible design is less usable for everyone. Poor accessibility is an invisible cost that can totally undermine the quality of the user experience for everyone (regardless of ability). Inclusive design results in better designs for everyone!
The Humanising Technology Philosophy
When we started Nomensa we quickly appreciated that every digital technology needed to accommodate all people or as many people as possible so we embraced the inclusive design approach. This idea of inclusivity persisted and eventually became the foundation of our design philosophy and we named it ‘humanising technology’. It represents the way we approach every project and reflects our unequivocal commitment to delivering technology to everyone that wants to use it. Humanising technology is the foundation that we have built our inclusive design principles on. For over a decade we have tried to positively demonstrate that usability, accessibility, and creativity are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, we believe that our flavour of inclusive design places them together with equal priority because they all fundamentally affect the quality of the user experience. For any site or technology to meet our goal of being ‘humanised’ it must balance all three. If one factor is not considered or under appreciated in the design process this will likely lead to a deeply diminished quality of user experience.
The phrase ‘it’s not the destination but the journey’ is one I have used to explain the steps an organisation needs to take to become digitally inclusive. However, the destination is also significant because in the case of digital inclusion this represents a new frontier in human accomplishment. When we finally do achieve digital inclusion and every single technology is designed to be ‘accessible’ as standard we will look back and realise that we have come a very long way. We will start a new journey and this will be even more amazing than the one we are currently on. Our perspective of humanity will have been enhanced and we will move from the ‘possible’ to the ‘actual’. Accessibility is digital evolution so let’s embrace and celebrate our diversity because everyone matters!