What Is Accessibility In Software Development And SAAS

by Tanya February 07, 2024

Improving the accessibility of SaaS and software solutions is crucial in today’s technology-driven world. Ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can use software products not only broadens the user base but also aligns with ethical principles of inclusivity and equal access. This article aims to enhance understanding and provide actionable strategies for creating more accessible software.

Understanding accessibility in software development

What it means

Accessibility means designing software so that it can be used by people with a wide range of abilities.

This includes individuals with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

For example, a visually impaired person should be able to navigate a website using screen-reading software, or someone with limited motor skills might need to interact with a service using keyboard shortcuts instead of a mouse.

VPAT ACR explained

A VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) assesses a software product’s accessibility features. It’s a critical tool for developers to understand how their software stacks up against accessibility standards. Think of it as a report card showing how well your software meets the needs of users with disabilities.

If you need assistance in reading a VPAT ACR to ensure compliance with accessibility standards, you can contact a professional accessibility consultant or the company providing the software. Understanding the nuances of accessibility documentation is crucial for developers and businesses committed to creating universally accessible software.

Legal frameworks and standards

Countries and regions have different legal requirements for accessibility, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the U.S. and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) internationally. Familiarizing yourself with these can guide your development process.

User-centered design

This involves directly involving users with disabilities in the design and testing process.

For instance, if you’re developing an educational app, including teachers and students with disabilities in your feedback loop can provide invaluable insights into accessibility needs you might not have considered.

Prioritising inclusive design principles

What is inclusive design

Start with the premise that your software will be used by people with diverse needs.

For example, ensuring that your app’s navigation is intuitive for someone who cannot use a mouse and instead relies on keyboard shortcuts or voice commands makes your product more accessible.

Visual considerations

Offer alternative text for images and icons, and allow for text size adjustments and high-contrast modes. A practical example is social media platforms allowing users to add descriptive text to images, helping visually impaired users understand the content.

Ensuring keyboard accessibility

Keyboard navigation is essential for many users, particularly those with motor impairments.

A simple measure like ensuring that all interactive elements of your website can be reached and activated via the keyboard makes a huge difference.

Implementing visible focus indicators helps users know which part of the site they are interacting with at any time.

Addressing visual impairments

Structured HTML and ARIA landmarks can significantly improve the usability of software for people using screen readers. For example, properly labeled form fields and buttons guide users through tasks without visual cues.

High contrast and text resizing options are also critical for those with low vision.

Providing captioning and transcripts

Including captions for videos and transcripts for audio content caters to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. A practical application is educational content platforms ensuring all video lessons have accurate captions, allowing all students to benefit from these resources.

Responsive design for different devices

With the increasing use of mobile devices, responsive design ensures that your software is accessible on any device.

This means making sure touch targets are large enough to be tapped easily on a small screen, and content scales appropriately to different screen sizes.

Utilise automated testing tools to identify common accessibility issues. Real-world testing with diverse users provides valuable insights that automated tools may not capture. As your software evolves and new features are added, conduct regular regression testing to ensure that accessibility features remain intact and new issues are promptly identified and addressed.

Regular accessibility testing

Continuous testing across different devices, using both automated tools and real-user feedback, ensures that accessibility is maintained as the software evolves. For example, after each major update of your software, conducting a new round of user tests with individuals who have disabilities can uncover issues that automated tests might miss.


By integrating these principles and practices into the software development lifecycle, developers and SaaS providers can create more inclusive and accessible products.

Accessibility should not be an afterthought but a key consideration from the outset of the design process, ensuring that all users have equal access to digital products and services.

Continuous learning and adaptation to new accessibility standards and user feedback are crucial for maintaining and improving accessibility over time.

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