User experience (UX) is a pivotal driving force behind audience engagement. It sounds obvious, but if a product’s accessibility isn’t good, users won’t want to come back and use it again.
Building upon this, accessibility isn’t as simple as everything functioning properly. It’s also about taking extra precautions when marketing to audiences who may find it difficult to use and navigate platforms.
So, how can you make sure everything and everyone are working towards UX being amazing across the board? Let’s dive into how brands are paving the way for greater accessibility.
A brighter, better tomorrow
Media should be accessible for all – but making that a reality takes time and needs careful consideration.
Many brands have started making progress in accessibility via their platforms. For example, Meta added automatic closed captioning and audio-only options to its live-streaming functions – meaning the reach for those services will only increase.
However, as technology continues to get more advanced with what it can accomplish, accessibility experimentation will only grow, especially as the Metaverse begins introducing more unexplored avenues in design.
But, before getting into the nitty-gritty of what needs improving, the first thing to set in order is your values regarding UX and accessibility. Does your brand promote these issues which need improving? Better yet, do you act upon them?
Where’s the issue?
Conducting audience research is one way to understand how users interact with your product and how accessible it is for everyone.
However, an even better option would be having users who struggle with accessibility at the ground level of discussion – which right now doesn’t seem to be the case:
“Recent research findings undertaken by C Space on behalf of The Valuable 500 show that while 88% of corporations claim disability inclusion is important to their business strategy – only 8% regularly include people with disabilities in marketing and communications.”
Perhaps UX improvements would rocket forward if more people with disabilities were contributing to marketing and brand strategies from the get-go, pinpointing where the issues are from both a design and engagement perspective.
Until these changes are made, users won’t engage with your services. In fact, 71% of web users with a disability will leave a website that’s not accessible or user-friendly.
Though we’re still far away from complete inclusivity, there are brands making strides for a brighter UX. Let’s take a look at a few and make some notes on how they’re getting it right!
The right way to do it
From this, Snapchat created a new fingerspelling lens through its augmented reality (AR) tools.
The AR lens allows users to sign words which will then replicate on the screen through emoticons and spell out the statement.
Snapchat’s new feature increases social media communication for those hard-of-hearing whilst encouraging users who can hear to engage with sign language in an immersive and creative way.
Kenny Mitchell, Snapchat’s chief marketing officer, stated:
“It’s important to us to make that human-to-human connection possible for everyone in our community, and that’s why we are passionate about fostering linguistic equity between people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and the hearing world.”
With over 15% of the world’s population encountering a disability – it’s essential social media brands provide tools that efficiently allow for all kinds of communication, and Snapchat is heading in the right direction.
Not only has Snapchat shown how creatively engaging and positive accessibility can be on digital platforms, but it also presents itself with strong corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Update: Meta has also just showed off its AI assistant “Builder Bot“, which lets users craft and create virtual worlds in the Metaverse by speaking directly into the mic. Though we still have a long way to go until achieving complete inclusivity across UX, these are definitely the right steps forward.
Inclusivity doesn’t have to come from the products alone, branded events in which we praise accessibility can also do wonders.
To celebrate improvements in accessibility, writer for Sony Santa Monica, Alanah Pearce, hosted the second annual Video Game Accessibility Awards. Based on guidelines published by the charity, AbleGamers, the event awarded brands for bringing inventive and accessible designs to video games so everyone can enjoy them.
Live-streamed across Youtube and Twitch, the ceremony highlighted how the biggest brands could help spread the importance of UX.
The big winner was Xbox Game Studios, which gained five nominations, including praise for clear and readable text and offering a “training ground” to practice skills and button layout.
The event reached a huge gaming audience, with the Youtube stream of the event gaining 29,383 views.
A great takeaway from these ideas is that you can maximise CSR in several ways – whether it’s making a product more accessible or joining in on the conversation and supporting those who do.
What’s vital is that it feels genuine and realistic; there’s no point preaching about better UX and accessibility without contributing to the cause.
How can you be more accessible?
Looking for some ideas to spark your move into accessible design? You’ve come to the right place!
Here are a few tips to get the UX ball rolling:
- Use screen reader software
Also known as text-to-speech, screen readers read out written text on the screen, from text to images!
Twitter brought in new team members to help develop its “voice tweets” function in 2020, helping users who struggle with reading to understand and engage with the platform more conveniently.
However, be cautious of your copy! Screen reader software will read out long stretches of URLs or emojis as a whole, so make sure to use them sparingly. Additionally, avoid emoticons (for example, XD) as text-to-speech won’t recognise these as emojis.
- Subtitles and Captioning
Captioning your content is essential for users who are deaf, hard of hearing or have learning disabilities.
Though you can caption and subtitle your own work, there are plenty of tools that automate the process available on the Google Play Store or Apple Store if you search “closed captions”.
According to the BBC, “around 10% of broadcast viewers use subtitles regularly, increasing to 35% for some online content.” – The BBC have a fantastic subtitle guide to read through, which you can view here.
There are more ways subtitles can enhance accessibility; they also assist in the varying ways we consume entertainment. Take commuters, for example; having captions for videos can keep users engaged with your content in busy and booming environments.
- Voice Descriptions
For those who have difficulty viewing your content, we’d also recommend producing versions of your content that describe what’s on the screen.
Here’s a quick ‘n easy tip – play your content with your eyes closed. Based on the descriptions alone, is any part of the content missed out?
Though we’ve seen positive changes and developments in accessibility and UX, there’s still plenty of progress to be made.
Whether your products need tweaking, brand values need improving, or marketing made more inclusive, everyone should be on board to make products, media and entertainment accessible to everyone.
Good UX doesn’t just make content accessible for everyone; but from a business perspective, it also increases conversions. Always remember that the needs of the consumer come first, and the conversions will follow.
There’s still so much to discuss regarding UX – we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Colour correction, elderly audience accessibility – we’ll be covering it all!
Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for our next blog drop in our UX and accessibility series.
Until then, if you’d like help improving UX for your platforms, websites and products or want further insights into how accessibility can improve audience engagement – contact our digital team now!