User Experience first - everyone benefits from digital accessibility

Tallence breaks down digital barriers

Highlights, Tech // Eva-Maria Cromm // Oct 17, 2023

Eine Frau, die mit einer Lupe auf eine Such-Eingabezeile einer Internetseite schaut, ist von 2 Hürden umgeben. Rechts daneben springt eine Frau vor erfolgssymbolisierenden, in der Größe ansteigenden Balken barrierefrei davon.
Profilbild von Carina

// Contact

Carina Wolters

  • Product Manager

The basic idea is as simple as it is essential: the World Wide Web is worldwide, comprehensive, sharing, connecting. The multitude of possibilities is linked to a multitude of responsibilities, including making all these options accessible to all users and excluding as few people as possible. Physical limitations, language, age, origin, social background or individual technical possibilities should not play a role. But they often do, and for far too many people they represent insurmountable barriers.

In Germany alone, the topic of digital accessibility is important for over 50% of the population. In addition to 7.8 million severely disabled people (according to the Federal Statistical Office 2021), more and more people are also struggling with limitations due to their age. As of 2022, 45% of the German population is 50 years old or older and belongs to a growing population group - Generation Reading Glasses and probably not Generation Digital Native. Likewise, non-native speakers click their way through the web more laboriously and with greater time expenditure.

Once you get into the subject, you quickly realise how wide-ranging the field of those affected is. Fortunately, digital accessibility is not an infinitely complex topic that can only be solved deep in the code. As easy as it is to understand how important it is for digital participation on the web, it is also easy to start addressing the crucial points with the smallest means to tackle the challenge.

What, for example, if blind or visually impaired people are not offered an understandable description of images on the screen? The function and range of an alt text (image-describing alternative text) is regularly underestimated and the automatically generated alt text often enough simply corresponds to the file name of the uploaded image. Titled "IMG3547_edited", however, it remains without any meaning for those concerned. Especially in times when image content performs far better than pure text, alt texts are essential for accessibility. We don't need to talk about the sense of videos or sound functions without audio description for people with impaired hearing.

But all it takes is a temporary or situational restriction, such as a plastered hand, forgotten screen glasses, a deafeningly loud construction site next door or a child in your arms. Situations that we can all encounter and are often unpredictable. In these moments, a clearly structured, easy-to-read, easy-to-use, reliably functioning website helps every user.

Verschiedene Kontrastdarstellungen anhand eines Schalters, wovon die ersten zwei nicht den Standard erfüllen.

Accessible pages perform better

Basically, it is not only people with disabilities who benefit from a well thought-out, clear and comprehensibly structured website that can significantly support the user experience. Who can deny that coherent symbols and clear language help people to find their way around any app or website? And even outside of WLAN connections, an optimised page helps to save data volume if we are reliably offered text as an alternative to high-resolution video.

Accessibility concerns frontend and backend in equal measure. With regard to the page structure, SEO aspects are important, among other things, because accessibility is rewarded by search engines and accessible pages are ranked better. Why? The more legible the information is structured, the better the search engine understands and interprets the content of a page. As a result, it is only logical that accessible pages also receive more traffic and, accordingly, more leads can be generated. (12% more traffic on average for accessible pages: Source: https://www.accessibilitycheck...)

If you're going to go for it, go for it - thinking holistically from the start

In order to get into action after a lot of theory: Whenever a company addresses the various topics it has learned so far about its website, i.e. from design and structure to findability via search engines - accessibility can and should always be directly considered.
"Whether it's adapting SEO measures, introducing a new content management system or an entire relaunch, our customers want to keep processes lean and use synergies," explains Tallence Product Manager Carina Wolters. "Holistic consulting is therefore always in focus for us at Tallence. For example, when we relaunch a website and make design or structural changes, it is obvious that we should also implement a barrier-free design on the website and app. This is our idea of a professional approach and saves time and money for our clients.

Vergleich der Umsetzung von Barrierefreiheit

Accessibility using the example of Telekom Account Manger

One example of a successfully implemented project of this kind is the Telekom customer portal, the so-called "Telekom Account Manager". Many customers use the Account Manager every day to log in and manage their data; the peak load is up to 2,000 users per hour. Of course, the aim is to provide an appealing, intuitive and quick-to-use site for all users.

The Account Manager has been accessible since 2022. As part of a more general major development of the platform, Tallence worked together with the Telekom design team to redevelop the layout and page behaviour of the customer portal. The result is an application with a new user interface and a highly optimised user experience. And this also includes, as an elementary component, the now barrier-free usability, which was considered as a central element right from the start - for the synergy reasons described above and due to technical requirements. Many details were implemented during the process so as not to cause unnecessarily higher costs when they were taken into account later.

Tests and acceptance of all features of the barrier-free application were carried out by those affected, i.e. by people with disabilities, so that the identification of hurdles was carried out from an authentic perspective and a real improvement in the user experience could be achieved. This means that telecom customers with disabilities are now able to use the customer portal independently, without a service hotline. And by the way, the legal requirements are also met.

"A great success," Dániel Sulyok, Software Developer at Tallence, sums up. "In particular, the positive feedback from the user tests accompanying the development has shown that our concepts work very well in practice."

For the implementation of barrier-free usability, the Telekom Account Manager is exemplary in many respects. Not only in terms of enabling the digital participation of all Telekom customers. But also in terms of the well-chosen timing of its further development. Telekom now offers its customers a barrier-free online service two years before the law came into force and benefits from a significantly improved user experience overall.

Digital accessibility principles

By definition, according to §4 BGG, websites are barrier-free if they can be found, accessed and used by people with disabilities in the generally accepted manner, without particular difficulty and generally without outside assistance. Availability of an easy-to-use user interface and navigation, understandable, easy-to-read content, coherently perceivable symbolism and a robust page structure in terms of technical design are principles that can make the difference so that limitations in seeing, hearing or processing information do not have a negative impact on how and to what extent we can use the web.

Legal framework

For a long time, accessibility requirements only applied to the public sector, but the Barrier-Free Reinforcement Act (Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz, BFSG) now also obliges commercial enterprises to offer barrier-free products with digital interfaces or user interfaces as well as digital services after 28 June 2025.

The legal basis for this is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. They regulate the technical requirements for the design of websites, taking into account compliance conditions and success criteria.

In order to create a compromise between optimal accessibility and feasible requirements, the AA level was legally anchored as a minimum requirement for companies to comply with digital accessibility. According to the medium AA level, the fulfilment of 50 success criteria is set. Requirements include the use of text alternatives such as icons, a changeable text size or the waiving of time restrictions for entries.

We love complex tasks

"It's not enough to tweak a bit of colour and contrast," explains Dániel. "The accessible design of a website reveals a range of tasks and implementation possibilities, depending on the client's requirements. This requires expert* expertise. It is important to determine the central tasks together with the client and to structure the processes clearly. Then accessibility works," smiles the experienced software developer.

If you are wondering how accessible your website already is or which measures can further improve the performance of your website, please contact us. Our experts will support you in all tasks related to this central topic. Exchange ideas with us, let's talk about the possibilities of how we can support you. Individually and goal-oriented. From the first audit to implementation and long-term support. The time to take responsibility is always now.

Have a look at our Accessibility Offering.