In the quality assurance industry, the road ahead is constantly changing. New technologies, new regulations, and new user motivations shift what we test and how we test. Accessibility is at the forefront of those changes, which is why PLUS QA considers accessibility to be a critical component of our work that requires heightened attention and resources. We know accessibility is an essential component of quality assurance testing because the data shows us it’s essential.
Our new Disability Statistics Guide features the latest accessibility data. It helps us make informed decisions for our company and clients, such as which disabilities to focus on in specific countries and industries. Our clients see accessibility features as critical elements of their intended user experiences. In fact, a 2016 study commissioned by Microsoft found that 4 out of 5 organizations believe accessible technologies improve their overall customer experience.
The Latest Accessibility Data
A large portion of the world population has a disability:
- 54 million people in the United States (US)
- 87 million people in the European Union (EU)
- 14.6 million people in the United Kingdom (UK)
That’s 155.6 million people who face potential technology limitations in regions where PLUS QA clients operate apps and websites.
In the US, one in seven people has a mobility issue. We see that number and understand that websites and apps can’t time out or refresh and delete unsaved data during a bathroom break. It may take a while for a user to return to their computer.
In the EU, about 2% of the population has trouble seeing. We know we’ll have to focus on potential issues like image contrast, text size, and an easily located focus indicator.
In the UK, 40% of disabled people are eligible for a pension. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) says older people often have overlapping disabilities. That includes trouble seeing images, using a mouse, and completing tasks. Older users may also require specialized devices to utilize websites and apps. It helps quality assurance firms to know this when updating their device catalog.
Barclay’s Head of Digital Accessibility, Paul Smyth, calls the company’s accessibility program its “biggest loyalty scheme.” Smyth reportedly told the attendees of TechShare Pro 2020 that making their banking services more welcoming and accommodating makes good business sense because continued positive experience builds loyalty.
It’s not surprising that people with disabilities are loyal. The latest accessibility data shows us they are disproportionately vulnerable to challenges like inequality, exclusion, and violence. Our statistics show that in the EU, women with disabilities are two to five times more likely to face domestic violence than women without disabilities. In the UK, living expenses cost £583 ($724) more for a disabled person, yet that same person is almost twice as likely to be unemployed.
People with disabilities already face enough challenges in the physical world. They don’t want to face them in the digital world — and they shouldn’t have to. Designing and engineering your application or website to meet or exceed accessibility needs is a good business decision, especially considering how vital customer retention is to your client’s bottom line.
If your quality assurance testing does not prioritize accessibility testing, you could put your client at risk of legal action. UsableNet reports a significant rise in digital accessibility lawsuits over the last half-decade, with most targeting e-commerce sites, often multiple times because the site designers do not fix them.
The WAI points out that there’s not just a risk of punishment; there’s also a benefit to focusing on accessibility needs, saying that removing architectural, digital, and social barriers can increase innovation. Google believes this. The tech company focuses on accessibility as a part of its core mission. Google’s head of accessibility, Eve Andersson, says the features developed with accessibility in mind trickle down to everyone. That forward-thinking requires a thorough analysis of the latest accessibility data to make critical decisions.