A summary of the story so far.
The number of people in the UK who are registered disabled has increased from 13.6 million (21%), see my blog part 3, to 16 million (24%). The WHO estimates that there are 1.3 billion (16%) people globally who suffer from a disability. Estimates of the percentages may vary across studies but the magnitude suggests that the disabled community is the world’s ‘largest minority’.
While technology has delivered significant benefits to the disabled community. Much more could be achieved, such as by improving the accessibility of business websites and mobile apps through the applied use of existing accessibility technologies and by compliance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), see my blog part 2. A quarter of a century after WCAG was first published in 1999, see my blog part 1, in 2023 a disappointing 96.3 percent of home pages had WCAG failures.
I am personally no fan of more regulation or legislation. However, the WebAIM Million report does indicate that public sector websites are becoming more compliant with WCAG. This has been achieved through regulation. I did make the case for increased legislation and regulation in my blog part 4.
In my blog part 6, I proposed that ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) could be a silver bullet to improve accessibility. ESG is a business led, voluntary form of self-regulation that an increasing number of organisations are adopting. It is fair to say that many of the organisations that have adopted ESG have focused on the Environmental dimension and less on the Social dimension. I called out a specific example of this in my blog part 5 whereby the fashionable use of green and white palettes on environmental topics were introducing accessibility errors. Another concern that I have with ESG as it is currently defined is that the social dimension is mainly focused on organisations’ own staff and suppliers with little emphasis on their customers. One exception that I have identified is that of the ESG guidance from the British Business Bank.
In summary I believe that ESG has potentially great benefits for the disabled if it were to slightly extend its principles, to include the needs of disabled staff and customers; a potential and very rare ‘silver bullet’.
My previous blog entries are:
- The IT Industry has been failing disabled people since the 1990s.
- The IT Industry has standards and guidelines dating back a quarter of a century.
- There are at least 14.6 million disabled people in the UK.
- This is not an engineering issue, is now the time for increased legislation and regulation?
- The Green Agenda is having a negative impact on the accessibility of websites.
- Is Environmental. Social and Governance (ESG) the potential silver bullet that I have been searching for to make a step change to the accessibility of digital services.
About the author
Chris Winter FIET FBCS CITP is an Ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, an evangelist for digital accessibility and a former IBM Fellow, now retired.
About the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA). The DPA defines Digital Poverty with five key determinants: the affordability of devices and connectivity, accessibility (for the disabled), skills, motivation and a lack of ongoing support. With the breadth of digital poverty being so broad. Its objective is to eradicate digital poverty in the UK by 2030.