Why is this topic so important?
Being able to access information technologies and systems is a declared human right. However, still more than 70 percent of websites are not accessible to everyone (Wettemann&White, 2019). Around 2,2 billion people worldwide have a visual impairment, and the rate is constantly rising, mostly due to the increasing age of our population (World Health Organization, 2018). Having visual impairments is just one out of many factors that can impact the ability to effortlessly move around the web. However, web accessibility does not only affect the experience of people with disabilities. I like the example of comparing web accessibility to a low curb, which was invented to enable people with wheelchairs to cross a street, but also cyclists, parents pushing a stroller or delivery persons with hand trucks benefit from it. If we improve the accessibility in our environment, no matter if online of offline, everyone will profit from those changes.
What is our vision for the topic when it comes to our online marketplace?
After presenting my master thesis about web accessibility at Kaufland e-commerce, the feedback was great. A lot of colleagues who followed along my presentation were motivated to apply accessibility standards to their daily work. Since all online shops and marketplaces need to be fully accessible by law in 2025, Kaufland e-commerce has decided to take a more systematical approach on fulfilling accessibility standards across all areas of the company. We are currently setting up an initiative that will concentrate on making Kaufland.de accessible for everyone.
How would customers and we as a company benefit from this?
Like mentioned above, everyone benefits from an accessible environment. Generally, there are three different types of disabilities:
- The situational disability, for example when you’re holding a baby,
- the temporary disability, for example when having an arm injury,
- and the permanent disability, for example when missing an arm.
Web accessibility caters the needs of all those types of disabilities and enables everyone the access to a service or platform. Additionally, web accessibility standards and usability standards have a lot in common, which means, if we improve web accessibility, the usability of a product will automatically be improved as well.
Do you want to say anything else?
For me accessibility is not about following certain guidelines only. It is about understanding how people with disabilities use the internet, being more sensitive and inclusive as well as understanding my own barriers and prejudices and acting upon those.
While writing my thesis, I always had a quote of Regine M. Gilbert in mind, who is a user experience designer and passionate about accessibility:
Barriers are not just physical. Attitudes found in society, based on prejudice or stereotypes […], also disable people from having equal opportunities to be part of society.