Accessibility in e-commerce is still a challenge for brands

Most sites are not suited to the needs of people with disabilities, studies indicate.

Discussions about internet accessibility have been going on for some time, but when it comes to e-commerce, research shows that only 1% can meet the needs of people with disabilities – and among the main e-commerces, they all have some barrier.

The number draws attention due to the discrepancy, since in Brazil there are about 7 million people with some type of disability, which shows the importance of promoting more actions aimed at accessibility in e-commerce.

The Web for All Movement (WPT), created in 2017, brings together organizations, people with disabilities and developers to promote these necessary changes based on real experiences and difficulties in using the Internet and consuming in e-commerces.

“As a deaf person, I think it is important that internet accessibility exists for the deaf, for the deafblind and for people with color blindness”, says Alexandre Ohkawa, architect and Libras teacher, on the WPT website. He cites as an example the importance that videos published on the web have subtitles in Portuguese or the window with interpretation in sign language, that care is taken with the colors of the clothes of those who are appearing, as well as with the background of the scene. so that the image can be understood even by those who have little vision.

“We need to accept that we live in a globalized society for everyone and full of information, so it is really necessary to be accessible to every human being, which will make it easier for everyone to have the opportunity to have choices about their accessibility preference” , it says.

E-commerce accessibility?

Online shopping has gained more strength in recent years and was still driven by the pandemic moment, but was that everyone's reality? Research and studies by the Web for All Movement show that it is not: when it comes to shopping over the internet, there are still numerous barriers for people with disabilities.

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Brazil, in its booklet Accessibility on the Web, overcoming these obstacles is to give “the possibility and condition of reach, perception, understanding and interaction for use, participation and contribution, on an equal basis”. opportunities, with security and autonomy, on sites and services available on the web, by any individual, regardless of their motor, visual, auditory, intellectual, cultural or social capacity, at any time, in any place and in any physical or computational environment and from any access device”.

In the study The Main Barriers to Access in Brazilian E-commerce Websites – 2nd Website Accessibility Study, carried out by Web Para Todos in 2018, there were several obstacles to e-commerce accessibility in the main names of the market.

The image description, despite already being a practice adopted by the websites, proved to be ineffective, since people with visual impairments or low vision, for example, could not understand what was on the website only by the description. In this case 76% of the users stated that they had this difficulty. Among the missing information, there were, for example, the color of the product, something essential for the choice.

Another important data shows that in 28% of the tests, users were not able to complete the purchase process, even though they were able to choose the product and understand the images from the descriptions. This shows obstacles on checkout pages, especially in the form area, according to the Web For All study.

For specialists, this shows that these forms are often not clear enough, either in the audio description explanation or in the organization of the page. This can hinder the understanding of people with low vision or color blindness, for example.

guaranteed by law

Although most websites are not really meeting the needs of people with disabilities, this accessibility on e-commerce or other websites is actually required by law.

The Brazilian Inclusion Law (13,146) provides that websites throughout Brazil offer accessibility to the public with disabilities. This means that all people with disabilities, whether physical, auditory, visual, intellectual or multiple, must have the right to surf the net without barriers.

In addition, the Consumer Defense Code itself guarantees the basic right to information related to consumption. In this way, it is necessary that the details of the product or service are clear and, in addition, that people with disabilities are also able to access and understand them.

This is still a challenge when it comes to inclusion. For example, despite federal law requiring websites to be accessible, government websites themselves have a very low rate of full accessibility: less than 1% of them, according to survey data.

Necessary changes

These obstacles present in e-commerces are not exclusive to this market. In fact, according to the data, the Internet is still a non-inclusive environment for people with disabilities. Even when there are mechanisms aimed at this, they are often done without much attention, as is the case with the image description example.

That is, even if the site allows audio description by blind people, the textual description made does not provide the right information and, often, not even the essential information, which impairs understanding.

In addition, the changes necessary for accessibility in e-commerce also need to take into account all types of disabilities or motor and intellectual difficulties. For example, people with photosensitive epilepsy may feel unwell and even have epileptic seizures if the site is too visually loaded.

The same fits in the case of people on the autistic spectrum: clean, organized sites with more sober colors and that have a logically structured “purchase path” where the person can assume what comes next (like a button with the name of the next step, not just an arrow).

Technologies and resources that promote accessibility in e-commerce

Among the necessary changes pointed out by the Web For All Movement, it is possible to note that technology is a great facilitator of this process. So much so that the Movement relies on developers to understand and study the structure of the sites, seeking to find points for improvement – which, as the data show, are still several.

In this way, from technology it is possible to develop resources to make accessibility in e-commerce something close to adequate. Among the features that can be included on the websites are:

Audio description of products, combined with a quality image description;
Possibility to zoom from 200%, with responsive website;
Braille display for ease of use;
Control by voice input also for people with motor difficulties;
Simplified registration;
Clean and objective interface;
Direct and objective texts;
Libras virtual interpreter, among others.

For this, there are numerous technologies that can be applied, such as artificial intelligence, which allows the search by voice and other accessibility mechanisms, such as audio description and Libras interpreter in virtual format.

In addition, user experience areas (UX Writer and Design) are increasingly involved with the needs of people with disabilities, being an important investment sector for websites that want to comply with the rules and promote more accessibility in e-commerce. for all.


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