I recently attended the M-Enabling Summit in Washington, DC and during my time there I was able to attend a session titled ‘Development Tools to Ensure Mobile App Accessibility’. The session was chaired by IBM’s Frances West and included panelists from Deque, Adobe, Code Factory, and our very own CEO of SSB Bart Group, Tim Springer. Much of the session centered on the idea that accessibility compliance thinking needs to shift into the design and development stage. With tools like AMP for Mobile, developers can have access to the knowledge and testing to help ensure accessibility is being built from the ground up, rather than being added in later when the project is near completion. This ensures mobile development cycles can shrink significantly, which is important in a time when getting to market quickly means everything.
The most profound comment for me was made by IBM’s Frances West during the question and answer session near the end of our time. When reflecting on her experiences globally and the accessibility trends she is seeing, Frances commented on how the new Millennial Generation of designers are considering accessibility as they design for usability and experience. Why? Isn’t this the “Generation of Me?” Yes, it is. This is the first generation that grew up with computers, cellphones, and social media. This is a generation that fully understands the need to be me and to personalize your device in a digital world. It’s also important to note they have also been referred to as the “Generation of We.” This generation has proven time and time again they are more tolerant and more inclusive than generations before them. In their minds, compliance with the law is an afterthought. They want to design to ensure everyone has the access and the ability to “be you.”
The Millennials could change the way organizations approach digital accessibility, and it would be for the better.