CHICAGO, May 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2019, The United States Supreme Court ruled websites must be accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, businesses and other organizations have redoubled their efforts to bring their websites and other digital properties into compliance with the law. What they are finding, however, is that accessibility is not the same as usability.
"Our lives depend on how well things are coded," says Jose Martinez, who is blind and works as Lead Analyst for The Chicago Lighthouse's Digital Accessibility Experience (DAX) consultancy. "Many times in my life, I have encountered websites that say they are accessible, but they are not compatible with the screen-reader I use. In those cases, the sites may as well be inaccessible."
Since 2019, The Chicago Lighthouse's DAX consultants, a team of I.T. professionals certified in digital accessibility who are also blind or visually impaired, has worked to help organizations optimize the user experience of their digital properties for people who are blind or visually impaired. Working closely with web developers, DAX consultants help ensure accessibility is a priority through all stages of development, from design through launch and beyond. By ensuring accessibility is a priority throughout the entire process, digital properties are not only optimized for usability by users with visual impairments, but they are also much easier to maintain and update.
"Working with The Chicago Lighthouse was great," says Will Ringland, accessibility lead at Epic, and who recently worked with The Chicago Lighthouse's DAX team in conjunction with UI Health, the University of Illinois Chicago's health system. "They helped us improve the workflow experience and ensure that all visually impaired employees will be able do their work more independently."
Nearly one in four Americans identify as having a disability, and the disability community as a whole has more than $500 billion in disposable income. Providing them with a digital experience that incorporates accessibility from the very beginning will be critical in reaching this loyal customer base.
"The number of daily activities taking place online expands every day. Companies cannot afford to relegate people with disabilities to an afterthought," says Dr. Janet Szlyk, President and CEO of The Chicago Lighthouse. "The companies that make digital usability a priority will have a huge advantage in accessing a loyal customer base."
Thursday, May 20, is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To promote digital access and inclusion, The Chicago Lighthouse is hosting several events highlighting importance of accessibility (including webinars with DAX consultants and a conversation with GAAD Founder Joe Devon) and why businesses and other organizations can make their digital properties more accessible. More information is available at www.chicagolighthouse.org/gaad.
For More Information, contact: Aaron Baar, 312-997-3662 or [email protected]
About The Chicago Lighthouse
Serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled, and Veteran communities through innovative education, rehabilitation, employment, assistive technology, and other programs, The Chicago Lighthouse is one of the nation's most comprehensive social service organizations. For additional information, visit www.chicagolighthouse.org.
SOURCE The Chicago Lighthouse