In today’s business landscape, where technological development is focused on improving customer centricity, ensuring all users have equal access to information and functionality has become a hygiene factor. This is especially true for enterprise solutions such as software applications, content management systems, and internal collaboration tools, which make up the backbone of modern businesses.

With WGAC guidelines setting the benchmark for accessibility, enterprises and solutions made for them must shed traditional mindsets and adopt a more human-centered approach. This makes accessible design thinking that embraces inclusivity from inception an imminent need. While the approach prioritizes users’ needs as an ethical standard, it is also a hidden gem from a business growth and continuity standpoint. 

To help you make the most of effective accessibility solutions, this article will cover accessible design thinking, its impact, essential elements to incorporate, and key tips to overcome some common challenges.

Table of Contents:

Understanding Accessible Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human-centered problem-solving process emphasizing empathy, iterative prototyping, and user testing to create innovative solutions. Adopting this approach in accessibility solutions for enterprise systems transforms the quality of how user needs are prioritized. This approach gives way to born accessible design for your enterprise solution.

The key behind accessible design thinking is that it focuses on user-centric design, which emphasizes user needs, and iterative feedback, which delivers a highly accurate and relevant enterprise solution.

Also Read: Exploring the Realm of Accessibility in 2024

The Business and Social Impact of Accessible Enterprise Systems

To make the most of accessibility solutions, understanding their impact on enterprise systems is imperative. Here are 6 ways accessible enterprise systems impact your business and social metrics:

  • Increased Market Reach: The WHO fact sheet highlights that 2.5 billion people worldwide need at least one assistive feature. Accessibility in enterprise applications empowers businesses to better serve this valuable customer segment, fostering a more equitable marketplace.
  • Legal Compliance: Apart from the ethical standpoint, compliance with WGAC guidelines is a legal mandate. 
  • Enhanced Innovation: Accessible design thinking expands the scope of innovation. Adopting this approach allows businesses to find solutions initially designed for users of diverse abilities. This paves the way for valuable innovations that improve efficiency for everyone.
  • Empowered Employees: With accessibility solutions in enterprise systems, tools are accessible to all. This facilitates employees experiencing greater independence, productivity, and a sense of belonging in the workplace, irrespective of their diverse abilities.
  • Culture of Inclusion: A focus on accessibility signals a strong commitment to creating a diverse and welcoming workplace where all employees feel valued and supported. Businesses that adopt this strategy significantly boost employer branding and build employee loyalty.
  • Positive Brand Reputation: Businesses that prioritize accessibility in their enterprise solutions project a sense of social responsibility, enhancing their reputation among both clients and stakeholders.

Must-Have Elements for Effective Accessibility Solutions

With the positive impact of accessibility solutions in mind, here are 4 essential elements that must be incorporated while adopting accessible design thinking in enterprise solutions:

1. Accessible UX Design

The primary motive of digital accessibility is to deliver a final solution that is built on concrete, validated, and relevant needs. Inclusivity in design lies at the forefront of every software and product, considering that users first interact with the design.

Here are key accessibility features that you must incorporate to deliver a comprehensive UX in your accessibility solutions:

  • Alternative Text: Provide comprehensive alt text for images. Alt text is the content that is input for screen readers and drives the content experience for those with visual impairments.
  • Color Contrast and Typography: Implement conscious typesetting so your users can easily comprehend and interact with your enterprise solution. This involves color combinations, contrast themes, readable font choices, and minimalist design layouts.
  • Keyboard Navigation: Ensure all interactive elements are fully operable without a mouse. This reduces users’ cognitive load and allows for easier navigation.
  • Clear Structure: Use semantic HTML tags (headings, lists, etc.) to create a well-defined, easily navigable content hierarchy.

2. Comprehensive Hardware and Tool Compatibility

Assistive technologies are growing rapidly. Your enterprise accessibility solution must be designed to seamlessly integrate with the latest hardware and tools. 

Here are the 2 elements you must incorporate in terms of compatibility:

  • Accessibility Testing Tools: Conducting regular audits is essential for every enterprise solution. While they should also be compatible with accessibility testing tools, integrating AI and automated checks is the most effective way to implement this.
  • Hardware Compatibility: Ensure your enterprise solution is compatible with the latest accessibility technologies, such as screen readers and voice-to-text software.

3. Enterprise Specific Foundations

Along with hardware compatibility and testing tools, being able to use and visualize the results is another integral part of your accessibility solutions. These are the 2 most critical elements to strengthen enterprise-specific accessibility foundations:

  • Employee Training: The accessibility principles and techniques must be thoroughly understood across various roles (design, development, content). Offer regular training to your development and user teams.
  • Metrics and Reporting: Concrete metrics such as employee satisfaction, productivity, learning rate, and even skill development steer usability in enterprise solutions. Define metrics to track your enterprise system’s accessibility progress and identify areas needing improvement. With these metrics and the power of automated dashboards, you can easily visualize your strengths and scope for improvement.

4. Inclusive Content Formats

The final component of embracing inclusivity is using formats best suited for accessible content. Here are 2 main content categories that should take maximum focus:

  • Forms, Dialog Boxes, and Documentation: Documentation is a huge part of enterprise solutions. It is the content you refer to for identification, use, and troubleshooting. These documents must be clear for easy comprehension, crisp and to the point, and compatible for screen readers to interpret.
  • Video and Audio: Both these formats are quite popular because of their high engagement and retention levels. To improve accessibility, you must provide clear captions for videos and transcripts for audio content. Also, consider adding sign language interpretation where crucial.

Essential Tips to Overcome Challenges During Implementation

Along with the elements to adopt for your enterprise accessibility solutions, you must also be ready for a few challenges. Here are the 3 main challenges of adopting a design thinking approach for enterprise solution accessibility and critical tips to help you nip it in the bud:

1. Handling Legacy Systems

Older enterprise systems are not often built with accessibility in mind, making them difficult and expensive to retrofit for accessibility. Here are 3 essential tips to overcome this hurdle:

  1. Identify and prioritize the most critical functionalities within the legacy system that must be accessible first to highlight the value of accessibility.
  2. Use overlays as a temporary solution to address some common accessibility issues. Overlays are a layer of code that sits on top of the existing application and can improve color contrast or add keyboard navigation options. 
  3. Create a long-term plan for migrating legacy systems to accessible versions. Planning is vital to tracking progress and systematically addressing issues. This plan should be phased and deployed based on budget, resources, and the system’s criticality.

2. Managing Multiple Stakeholders

The iterative design thinking approach heavily relies on involvement from various stakeholders through numerous loops. These stakeholders, who may not all be familiar with accessibility best practices, are the primary decision-makers in enterprises. This can slow down and hinder the adoption of accessible design thinking.

Here are 3 quick tips to tackle this challenge:

  1. Organize training sessions and workshops for stakeholders at all levels.
  2. Showcase real-world case studies and success stories of how accessibility has benefited businesses.
  3. Develop internal resources and knowledge base articles on accessibility best practices and WCAG guidelines.

3. Tackling Complexity and Scale

Enterprise applications are often feature-heavy and complex, making it harder to ensure consistent accessibility across all elements and functionalities. Here are 2 practices to keep in mind when managing accessibility solutions in such enterprise systems:

  1. Feature accessibility from the ground up during the design phase of enterprise systems to ensure consistency and reduce future risk.
  2. Conduct regular accessibility audits to ensure ongoing adherence to accessibility standards. Find the right blend of automation, AI, and manual testing to ensure a thorough yet resource-optimized audit.

Also Read: How to Create an Accessible Brand in 2024 and Beyond? 

Accessible Design Thinking for the Enterprise’s Present and Future

Accessibility solutions are vital for business continuity, considering the rise in technological development driven to improve usability and access. Businesses worldwide must empathize and grow towards the same goal. That said, every enterprise solution must be a robust final product. The iterative nature of accessible design thinking ensures the user’s needs are met within the relevant budget, resources, and workforce.

While the essential tips we have covered in this article equip you with the vital elements and tools to set up accessibility solutions and tackle hurdles, the most effective way to develop an enterprise system tailor-made for your unique needs and your users’ is through expert guidance. Our team at Hurix Digital is the ideal fit for the accessibility solution, training modules, and staffing solution to create the proper enterprise system.

So don’t hesitate! Contact us now to get started!