Usable for all – Why accessibility in IT solutions is important

Accessibility also ensures participation in social life, working life and IT solutions for people with disabilities of various types and degrees – as an assurance of international human rights as well as a Veشr obligation from the German Participation Act and the specific ordinance for federal states.

Accessibility thus ensures operation in IT projects also by the extended user groups around people with impairments or disabilities. According to the specifications of the same superordinate group of standards, ISO 9241-171, the maintenance of accessibility in IT projects is implemented – similar to the rules of the standard for usability ISO 9241-110 with the quality-assuring dialogue principles as the basic manifesto.

The basic requirement for accessibility results from the requirement of the Federal Participation Act, in particular for information systems of state bodies or platforms that are financed with state, but especially European, funds. The fulfilment requirement results from the Ordinance on the Creation of Barrier-Free Information Technology in accordance with the Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act (Barrier-Free Information Technology Ordinance – BITV 2.0) of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the corresponding Saxon ordinance. Accessibility is implemented in particular according to the Ordinance on Accessible Information Technology, BITV 2.0, as an auditable quality standard for IT systems.

For websites, the principles of the WACS for accessible websites, which are reflected as principles in the BITV, apply as supplementary specifications to the standards of the W3C:

  • Perceptibility
  • Operability
  • Comprehensibility
  • Robustness

Consideration of the disabilities according to their relevance

Accessibility ensures the operation of information systems for people with disabilities and limitations of all kinds. In order to ensure this requirement for information systems, an awareness of the entire range of possible disabilities and limitations must be created in advance. In the following, all relevant disabilities are listed and underlined with their relevance for IT projects, as well as initial approaches to technical solutions.

Visual disabilities

  • Impaired eyesight
  • Complete blindness

Basically, far more people are affected by impaired vision than one might think. In projects with a focus on social context as well as public authorities, the likelihood of an age-related visual impairment is not unlikely on the part of the users. Small improvements such as larger fonts or the possibility of magnification provide immediate help. In the case of colour blindness, combinations of colour and icons, form language or text information can be used to counteract the perception of, for example, the status of information or interaction. In the case of complete blindness of the users, the IT solution will be operable via a mixture of keyboard control and speech output, which is ensured via a mixed choice of simplicity, arrangement, tabbing, UI automation and the use of assistive technology according to BITV.

Auditory disabilities

  • Impaired hearing
  • Complete deafness

People with auditory impairments will be able to use our platform in the information content without access problems, as it is a rather text-heavy application. For the selective use of audio and video, subtitles or text alternatives as well as other control options will be planned for the deaf.

Motor disabilities

  • Restricted mobility
  • Partial paralysis
  • Complete paraplegia
  • Missing limbs (arms, hands)

Motor disorders are certainly relevant for our application, as the application will primarily be operated with a mouse and keyboard. If a person is affected by a disorder of the motor function of his or her hands, there are various possibilities for assistance with varying degrees of complexity: Large click surfaces are more of a preliminary stage, but keyboard control is primarily important. People with more complex motor disabilities, e.g. due to paralysis or even missing limbs, also need alternative input media such as pen or gesture control up to voice control and eye control.

Brain and learning disorders

  • Functional limitations
  • Less perceptive
  • Triggers: From birth such as Down’s syndrome or strokes of fate such as stroke

From birth, through strokes of fate or age, brain dysfunction and learning disorders may be present on the part of the user. Our technical system must take this fact into account to a certain extent. Basically, illiteracy is not to be assumed among the users, since they are people who operate apps, software and websites or have family responsibilities and are in the working world. However, brain dysfunction can still occur due to fate, e.g. as a result of a stroke. A certain degree of simplicity of language as well as iconographic support can provide at least a small degree of help. In addition, sketchy explanatory videos with voiceovers offer support.

Time window of the disability

  • Situational
  • Temporary
  • Through stroke of fate
  • Since birth

Meeting the dialogue principles of ISO 9241-110 without barriers

For every user, the use of the system must be efficient, effective and satisfactory in the same way – according to the requirements of the standard for usability as well as the screen safety regulation. To ensure the accessibility of software and web applications, our system must therefore also fulfil the dialogue principles for people with disabilities to the same extent as for users without disabilities. The criteria of usability in the context of accessibility are named here as the basic principles of the application.

Task adequacy
A user with a disability must also be able to successfully complete the work tasks within the FamJob IT system accordingly.

Self-descriptiveness
Even for a user with a disability, the IT system must be understandable and comprehensible in terms of content and operation.

Controllability
A user with a disability must also be able to freely control, stop and pause the IT system according to his or her needs.

Fault tolerance
A user with a disability must also receive help and correction instructions within the framework of our IT system in the event of possible operating errors.

Individualisability
Especially for a user with a disability, the IT system must be adaptable to their individual needs and abilities.

Facilitation of learning
A user with a disability must also be able to understand our IT system and learn how to use it.

Conformity to expectations
A user with a disability must be able to experience and operate our IT system according to his or her expectations – in terms of technology, content and operation.

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