THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCESSIBILITY IN COVID-19 TIMES (Coronavirus)
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is changing society, getting us used to staying at home by making an effort to “flatten the contagion curve”. But to do so we force ourselves to be confined and not have access to our loved ones. However, the lack of this human affection makes us look for the approach through social networks and the web to communicate with them, also taking advantage to visit our most common shops or services online.
This crisis is teaching us how to live online through the web, whether it is to work, shop or access the most basic services. This shift towards the digital, definitely comes to stay, as this crisis is making us change our habits of life.
As a result, a new urgency is growing: accessibility on the web. In this society many older people or people with disabilities find themselves with barriers on the Internet because they do not have accessible pages or a system of accessibility adapted to their needs.
It is now that Public Administrations and Businesses must take into account the positive impact of accessibility and prioritize digital inclusion by making their pages accessible.
According to a report by ABC News, “the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus put an additional burden on accessibility for blind people”. According to this newspaper, “we are seeing blind people being left behind due to a lack of accessibility to many web pages”. Nowadays food and many of our basic needs are available on the many Internet platforms of companies and services, however not all of these have accessible pages adapted to the needs of these groups of people.
During the first week of March when the coronavirus crisis was expected, grocery delivery services and other products experienced an increase in sales of at least 60% compared to the same period in previous years. In times of confinement there are people who use these services on the Internet, and although not all companies are accessible in its online version, they stop attending or helping groups of people such as the elderly or people with disabilities. Fortunately, some companies and administrations have already started to do this work by making their websites accessible.
Another similar case can be found in banks and savings banks. In the United States, many of the country’s large banks have focused for years on the accessibility of their websites and systems such as APPs, like Bank of America, for example.
Also schools, colleges and universities that maintain their virtual courses on their websites should be increasingly accessible, as we find their material more often on them, as well as conferences, online classes, or access tests.
This crisis underlines the importance of digital inclusion for all people to have equal access to the Internet in this information and communication technology society. It is now more than ever that companies and Public Administrations must prioritize accessibility in their pages and, therefore, their services. Those that are capable of being pioneers in improving their services will be those that have a greater and better impact on the collective of these groups of people who will see them as their best allies, because the crisis that this pandemic has brought us, brings us habits and ways of relating socially that come to stay.