Accessible design follows accessibility guidelines and standards to create products that can be used by people with a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities. We spoke to Fran, Graham and Mel from the engineering team about why accessible design is especially important for companies that deal with customers in debt.
Abi: Welcome back to Break The Cycle! Today I’ve got Graham, Fran and Mel from the engineering team with me and we’re gonna be talking about all things accessible design, why it’s especially important for people in debt and how we go about designing with inclusivity in mind. So a definition is a good place to start, how do you guys go about defining accessibility?
Graham: When a lot of people hear 'accessibility' they immediately assume it's for the 1% of users who are blind or have a motor disability. But it's not just about that. The idea is that anyone who wants to use your product should be able to, it's not just about people with these obvious disabilities, there are also people who may not have access to devices that you support. So maybe if you only design your software to work on a mobile, someone who doesn't own a smartphone won't be able to use it if they're using a library computer or something. So the whole point of accessible design is that anyone who wants to use your product can use it.
Fran: Actually, I think Mel has a challenge for everybody.
Mel: There are some things that you can do to test on your own devices how accessible some of your favourite websites are. So on every device that you have nowadays, you should have a screen reader. And it's really interesting if you go to some of your favourite websites and turn it on and let it read out what comes up on the screen. And if you close your eyes, you can try and figure out how easy it is for people with, for example, blindness or an inability to navigate your site or whether some things are repeated a lot of times. It's very difficult when you go to a new page and every time you have to sit through the whole menu and things like this, it's impossible to skip. So yeah, it's really interesting, it can become really frustrating very easily.
Abi: What about when it comes to Ophelos? What do we do to make our website accessible? And why is it important for people in debt?
Mel: Especially for people in debt, I think we see a lot that we are trying to help vulnerable customers and people with vulnerability may very well have some form of disability and that may be why they are, for instance, vulnerable. So it is very important to us at Ophelos to try and help those people who are less able to get help elsewhere as it's really core to our values to help anyone who we can out of debt.
Graham: I think a good way to think about people in debt is we don't want to add to their problems, right? We want to help people as much as we can. And having a product that someone just can't use is not helpful, right? It's doesn't meet the objectives of our business. So it's important that we make our website accessible so that anyone can get the help that they need. So when someone first signs in to the app, we give them a reference code to use to log into their account. And the input we have for that looks like six individual inputs for each character of the reference code so that it is obvious how many characters there are.
Abi: That's really interesting. Well, thanks for joining me, everyone.
Graham: Thank you for having us.
Fran: Thanks Abi.
This is a mini series brought to you by Ophelos, the Ethical Debt Platform. If you want to know more, follow us on LinkedIn or read our latest blog post at content.ophelos.com. Thanks for listening.