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You may not be conscious of the number of people for whom the issue of digital accessibility is particularly relevant. According to the World Health Organization, about 1.3 billion people, or 1 in 6 people worldwide, experience significant disability. This statistic determines the importance of adapting digital products for all user groups since there are many people who have hearing, vision, musculoskeletal, and cognitive disabilities. Indeed, we all want to be able to use digital technologies to the fullest. Therefore, it’s important to provide digital solutions accessible to absolutely everyone despite health characteristics or age. 

Fortunately, today many organizations are starting to take steps to provide their target audiences with an advanced user experience, regardless of age, language, or disability. Although making a product digitally accessible will require extra effort from business and software product development sides, in this case, it will be able to be used by a much larger number of people. Also, it could be a step towards improving customer satisfaction rates. So what is digital accessibility? Below we’ll explain its main points and describe how you can implement it in your app development solution

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility means designing and developing digital services so that regardless of a person’s physical or mental ability, they can still interact with your app, website, or other digital product in an equal and meaningful way. Thus, companies following its practices achieve inclusiveness, which in the 21st century is a key ethical factor and, in some cases, a mandatory requirement.

In particular, digital accessibility will benefit the following user groups:

  • Users with temporary and permanent health disabilities
  • Elderly people whose cognitive and physical abilities have deteriorated due to aging
  • Users faced with situational restrictions such as bright sunlight or noisy environments
  • Users with a slow or intermittent internet connections

Today, digital accessibility is gaining momentum, and more and more companies are improving their products, making them user-centric and thus taking better care of the needs of consumers. This, in turn, helps businesses scale and develop. Digital accessibility provides companies with:

The most detailed digital accessibility practices are described in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 guidelines, developed in collaboration with different organizations worldwide to form a single standard of digital accessibility compliance.

For Whom Does Digital Availability Matter?

Let’s take a quick look at which groups of people digital accessibility compliance is especially important for.

Visual Impairment

Impairment of vision means the reduction of the visual perception of the environment to the point where conventional aids, such as glasses or medication, are useless. If we talk about more accurate diagnoses, there is blindness, partial loss of vision, and color blindness. This group will face serious obstacles when using solutions incompatible with screen readers, unscalable content, or solutions where differences between elements are determined only by contrast.

Hearing Disorders

Hearing impairment is defined as a group of diseases or dysfunctions associated with a partial or complete loss of hearing and understanding of surrounding sounds. Examples of diseases can be deafness and hearing loss. For this category of users, it will be difficult to perceive audio and video content without synchronized text captions.

Speech Disorders

Speech disorders imply dysfunctions in the speech apparatus that prevent free communication with other people. This group includes diseases such as apraxia and stuttering. People with these disorders are likely to have problems using smart solutions based only on voice input (i.e., without any alternative methods of interacting with the interface).

Cognitive Disorders

Cognitive impairment describes a range of diseases associated with congenital or acquired brain or nervous system dysfunctions. This can be Down Syndrome, autism, dementia, dyslexia, etc. For those with these disorders, solutions with overloaded interfaces (in which it’s difficult to focus on the needed functionality), solutions that have lengthy onboarding processes, as well as those that use overly-large volumes of solid text and small fonts, will be difficult to use.

Mobility and Vestibular Disorders

This category includes people with physical disabilities, such as the total or partial loss of the upper limbs, impaired motor skills of the hands, as well as lack of control in fine motor skills. In particular, this can include frequent convulsions, arthritis, stroke, epilepsy, amputation of limbs, and so on. Thus, mouse- or touch-only solutions, as well as solutions with video autoplay and/or with no alternative scrolling tools (other than a slider), may not be available to this category of users.

4 Main Types of Digital Accessibility

Based on the groups of people with disabilities described above, we can segment digital content accessibility into the following types. For each of them, the WCAG 2.1 digital accessibility standards propose specific recommendations. 

What is digital accessibility?


Mobile accessibility is not only the availability of a digital solution for groups of people with disabilities. It also means the usability of this product to the same degree as its desktop version.

At the same time, the need to use a touch panel for control and the limitations in the size of screens can cause serious inconveniences when interacting with mobile solutions for people with disabilities. That’s why you may need to use advanced technologies such as a voice control interface.

We propose you check the most fundamental aspects of mobile accessibility:

  • Ensure the readability of the text and textual equivalents for information originally conveyed through color
  • Ensure proper sizing and visibility for primary links and buttons
  • Label all controls to make them visible to screen readers
  • Make data entry easy by implementing compatibility with alternative input tools
  • Eliminate the need to scale interface components
  • Position interactive elements so that they can be reached regardless of the position of the user device and the size of the user’s fingers
  • Simplify the gestures needed to navigate your digital solution
  • Ensure the same sequence in the placement of components and navigation elements from one screen to another

We recall that the complete list of digital accessibility standards for mobile products is much broader, and creating a product that fully meets them can be challenging. In particular, you may need the help of the outsource mobile app development team, which has experience working on such solutions.


We have compiled a summary of the recommendations for digital accessibility compliance in the video context:

  • Avoid sudden movements, such as flickering and other effects, and anything that can abruptly change its position more than three times in one second.
  • Ensure good visibility of the speakers: their faces should be illuminated so that users with hearing impairments can read lips.
  • Ensure readability of titles: their font should be large enough, contrasting, and without unnecessary curls and other decorative elements.
  • Offer your users an alternative overlay that translates sign language in sync with audio.
  • Provide a plan for describing the visual information if any speech doesn’t accompany the video. 
  • Integrate an abbreviated description of what is happening into the video. 
  • Include clearly visible closed captions (CC) for users with hearing disabilities.


Here’s a short description of digital accessibility standards for audio content:

  • Ensure high-quality sound: professional microphones and other recording devices come to the rescue here. They will allow you to isolate the desired sounds from the strange ones.
  • Reduce background noise: it must be at least 20 decibels lower than foreground speech and free of harsh and annoying sounds.
  • Clear and intelligible speech with logical pauses: this is effective both for synchronizing with captions and for allowing users to lip-read.
  • Reduce or remove instances of jargon and idioms.
  • Provide synchronization capabilities with third-party software for people with hearing disorders.


PDFs are one of the most preferred documents for viewing, as it’s equally accessible to all groups of users with disabilities. It’s perfectly compatible with the vast majority of specialized tools such as screen magnifiers, screen readers, speech recognition programs, alternative input devices, and Braille displays.

The digital accessibility of PDF files is determined primarily by:

  • The ability to select desired parts of the text
  • Tag availability: there should be several of them in the Tags panel
  • Checking ready-made PDFs in a PDF validator

Why is Digital Accessibility Important for Business?

Still think digital content accessibility is optional? In this case, you should check the benefits that digitally-accessible projects receive to make sure how crucial it is to provide it these days.

What is digital accessibility?

Expanded Reach of Target Audience

One of the most important benefits of providing digital accessibility is expanding the target audience’s reach. Since one in six people worldwide has some kind of disability, following digital accessibility recommendations makes your product potentially interesting and useful for many more people.

Improved User Experience

Along with reaching groups of users with disabilities, you’ll also optimize your product in terms of usability, making user flows simpler, faster, shorter, and more intuitive. Moreover, the presence of such solutions on the market also benefits users with a poor or unstable internet connection, regardless of the form factor of the device they use.

Better SEO

Digital content accessibility means optimizing the markup and responsiveness of digital solutions, which directly affects usability. Thus, web- and mobile-accessible solutions rank better in search engines that consider this factor (in particular, Google).

Brand Reputation

These days, as companies around the world—from Netflix to Axe—try to create more inclusive products, digital accessibility is a good practice that will set you apart from your competitors and help you establish a positive image in the eyes of your target audience. Thus, accessibility can be identified as one of the leading trends in mobile and web design.

Customer Satisfaction

Digital accessibility can positively impact the satisfaction, loyalty, and retention of your target audience—a user-centric approach helps to cover all major customer needs when using digital products. Thus, companies manage to build long-term relationships and allow their customers to feel truly valuable.

4 Basic Principles of Digital Accessibility

To get a fuller picture of digital accessibility, let’s briefly go through the basic principles of WCAG 2.1. The full list of guidelines is available here. Along with this, it’s essential to understand that despite the comprehensiveness of these instructions, they still cannot fully satisfy the needs of people with all types, degrees, and combinations of disorders.

What is digital accessibility?


In short, all content on your website or application should be presented in alternative formats, in ways that are easy to perceive for people with various disabilities. Also, people should be able to access it with auxiliary tools—for example, visually impaired people should have the opportunity to use additional software for reading from the screen. On top of that, to ensure responsiveness for people using mobile devices or having a weak internet connection, you’ll need to make the interface clean and simple. 


All the components of your digital product should be easy-to-use with different tools, including third-party ones. The interface should not contain elements that users with disabilities wouldn’t be able to interact with, for example, single-mode inputs, complex interactive elements, and timed elements.


Content and user interface should be understandable to all people who interact with them. This means designing simple user flows, increasing the predictability of user actions, offering input assistance for users, and so on.


A digitally accessible solution must be compatible with different platforms or systems. In particular, this principle ensures the gradual replacement of certain solutions that cannot be used by the vast majority of end users, for example, due to constant freezes, errors, etc.

3 Levels of Compliance with the Principles

Each of the aforecited principles can be achieved at one of three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Let’s check what each of these levels mean:

  • A: the minimum level of digital accessibility compliance, which implies the exclusion of elements that make the digital product impossible to interact with for users with disabilities
  • AA: includes a moderate level of accessibility compliance, more than level A
  • AAA: the highest level of compliance, takes into account all the requirements of WCAG 2.1

What Local Laws Need to be Checked?

Every year, digital accessibility is increasingly regulated locally and internationally. At the moment, only non-profit organizations are required to adhere to these regulations. But it may well be that soon, their action will extend to private commercial organizations, so it’s already important to understand what laws your digital product will have to obey over time. In particular, the following laws and directives apply in the United States:

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • 21st Century Communications Accessibility Act (2010)

In the EU, the following provisions are relevant:

  • EN 301 549 Standard
  • The Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102)
  • The European Accessibility Act (Directive 2019/882)

In general, all of them more or less follow the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, so if you have met the basic requirements of these guidelines, there will be minimal further work to ensure compliance with these laws.

Please note that, in addition to the above, some countries may have their own laws, such as the Stanca Act in Italy, WZG in Austria, the Web Accessibility Initiative in Norway, the Disability Equality Act in Switzerland, and so on). Therefore, before creating your own digital solution or checking an existing one, it’s important to ensure that it’s compatible not only with primary directives but also with local laws. Moreover, it’s essential to report on the accessibility of your digital product regularly—for example, in the EU, every three years, you must submit a report to the EU Commission confirming that your product meets the above provisions. 

Only in this case will you be sure that your product works legally and you won’t be subject to penalties. In particular, there have already been precedents in the United States when the fines amounted to several million US dollars.

Tools to Check Compliance

Due to the possible implications, you should have a reliable tool at hand to help you check your project for digital accessibility. A complete list approved by can be found here. Also, there are two proprietary tools provided by the W3C consortium for validation: the W3C HTML validator and the W3C CSS validator. These will help you check your project’s markup and CSS code.

Final Thoughts

In summary, we can conclude that digital accessibility opens up new opportunities to attract and increase loyalty from previously unreached user groups. On the other hand, you’ll need a lot of knowledge to create such a complex solution. Our team will be happy to help you with this by providing expertise in various accessibility standards, the fundamentals of accessible designs and code, as well as multiple testing techniques and tools. Therefore, to create a product with digital accessibility compliance inspired by the latest mobile and web development trends, feel free to contact us, and we’ll do our best to transform your business idea into a digitally-accessible solution, relevant to the maximum number of people.

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