The market is starting to wake up to the need to invest in digital accessibility and provide services to all users of its websites and applications, according to experts.
On the one hand, some companies try to train their teams and create special groups to solve problems. Consulting firms, on the other hand, specialize in diagnosing and correcting problems and creating jobs for the visually impaired.
This is an audience that is still underserved by online businesses. According to a study by Movimento Web para Todos in partnership with BigDataCorpi, only 0.46% of active websites in Brazil meet all parameters of digital accessibility.
The index is even lower than the one recorded in 2021, when 0.89 percent succeeded according to this criterion. 22 million pages were reviewed.
Simone Freire, the creator of Web Para Todos, attributes the worsening results to the increase in the number of small websites created during the pandemic, when restrictive measures and social distancing led to the closure of brick-and-mortar stores. For Freire, those responsible had not yet had contact with the subject.
There are drawbacks such as not allowing navigation without the use of a mouse for people who are blind or visually impaired and the lack of text inclusion in buttons that allow the blind to receive information through screen reader software. It also takes into account whether the page has a description of its images or not.
According to Freire, making a site more accessible for people with disabilities creates better navigation for all audiences, including the elderly or people with low literacy, because they are simpler and easier for users.
Improved accessibility is also taken into account by search engines when determining which page a user will see first, which can be another incentive to pay attention to a topic, Freire says.
At handmade items website Elo7, concerns about accessibility came from the employees themselves, says company president Erich Egert.
The executive director says that after learning about the topic, the company’s management decided to leave employees to devote part of their time to studying the guidelines to ensure digital accessibility. He claims that it was possible to achieve good results without spending a lot of money using content that is available online. “They showed that it is possible, with effort, to do this job and that it is not that complicated.”
The company’s team also evaluates maintaining the quality of accessibility, Egert says. “From time to time they turn off the monitors to see if they can view the pages.”
Elo7 was ranked third in the Yaman consulting firm’s ranking, which indicates the best virtual stores operating in Brazil, behind only Apple and Samsung.
Also in the area of e-commerce, Mercado Livre decided to create a special area this year to take care of accessibility, says Ângela Faria, head of diversity and inclusion for Latin America at the company.
According to the CEO, the new group is responsible for identifying flaws in other company projects, systematizing processes to avoid mistakes, and training other company experts. “We want to make sure our next actions are available from the start.”
Technology consulting firms saw affordability as a market opportunity.
NTT Data and Yamãn are participating in website and application planning with major banks and retailers to improve their accessibility. They also run tests to diagnose problems on existing platforms.
The work is always performed in pairs, consisting of one visually impaired person and one visually impaired person. The company has 15 employees who are blind or visually impaired in their work.
Murilo Bolonhini Cita, head of accessibility at Yaman, says that each app screen goes through 30 validations. Some of them are done by those who are blind and have the same experience as a disabled user, and some by a consultant who is sighted and can evaluate items such as the quality of the fonts used and the contrast between the chosen colors.
NTT Data claims to have more than 50 consultants with disabilities.
Thais Cassano Sibim, the company’s quality manager, says that the search for the service has increased this year. According to her, the market has not yet reached maturity in relation to the subject, but the drive to expand diversity in its staff has given strength to issues related to inclusion and accessibility.
NTT Data consultant Vinícius Ricieri, 23, who is visually impaired, says he is motivated to work to make available services that were not available to everyone just a few years ago. There is no longer the business that people with disabilities are small and that it is not worth investing in them, he says.
Jéssica Pereira, 25, also a consultant at NTT Data, says it’s gratifying to see other blind people able to use a product that went through her work to make it accessible. And it confirms that when someone with a visual impairment can easily use an app or website, that person is likely to recommend the product to many friends with the same disability.
Basic tips for digital accessibility
- Images: Describe them so that people with visual impairments can understand them. It is also necessary to describe the texts that appear on the images, as screen reader software does not record this information for its users.
- Fonts, colors and contrasts: Avoid italics or letters that may cause difficulty in reading. Prioritize font colors and backgrounds that make it easier for the visually impaired to see
- Navigation: People with visual impairments or motor disabilities can only navigate the computer using the keyboard, using the Tab key and the arrow keys. Don’t create buttons that can only be accessed with the mouse
- videos: Subtitles and translation into Libras (Brazilian Sign Language) make content accessible to the hearing impaired, oral and sign communicators
- Translation: It is recommended that websites have an avatar that translates their texts into Libre
- Stillness: Avoid videos that autoplay when the page loads and tick the pause button
- links: Avoid creating with phrases like “click here” or just the word itself like “link”. Instead, prefer text that indicates what a person will find when they click
- buttons: It is common to have buttons whose function is written on their own image or shown in a drawing, which is not enough for those who use screen readers. It is necessary to create alternative text that can be captured by this software
- headers: People with disabilities can use keyboard shortcuts to quickly move from one title to another, so they need to be created according to a coherent hierarchy
- Tests: Services such as Asesweb, from the Brazilian government, and Access Monitor, from Portugal, with the Lighthouse extension for Google Chrome, allow a quick assessment of the level of accessibility and the quality of the code with which the site was developed
- More information: The W3C International Consortium, which sets standards for the Internet, created WCAG, a set of guidelines for providing accessibility on the Web
Source: Web for All Movement