… at least 57 per cent of British internet users have used at least one online government service in the past year. The remaining 27 per cent are, of course, important; but only about one-fifth of these non-users (ex-users) ‘definitely don’t know’ someone who could assist them. This means that around 5 per cent are currently out of reach.’Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers
Richard Susskind isn’t someone I’d trust to talk about usability.
He talks about employing technology as a means of changing up the legal industry.
And the way he talks about people who aren’t able to use technology is incredibly dismissive.
So, I want to put this into context for cats like you.
Britain’s population is just shy of 68 million people. Twenty-seven per cent of that volume is 18.36 million people. And 5 per cent? That’s 3.4 million people.
This number of people is:
- 68 per cent of the population of Sydney
- 70 per cent of the population of New Zealand
- 15 times the population of Geelong
- Double the population of Adelaide
… like, it’s hardly an insignificant figure. In the ANZ context it is an enormous number of people.
Granted, Tomorrow’s Lawyers was published in 2013, making it almost ten years old. But the glacial rate at which law moves (in general) means that it’s still an influential work.
The problem with casting a number of ‘non users’ as an apparently small percentage is that it becomes easy to dismiss their needs.
Like, oh well only five per cent can’t do something online.
That’s a huge matter if almost all of New Zealand can’t do something online.
Or, you’re in a regional area and fifteen times your regional city’s population is unable to access a service, doesn’t know about a service, or is simply out of your reach.
The trouble is, everyone who is online assumes that everyone else is also online.
Everyone who is on Facebook assumes that everyone else is also on Facebook. (Some don’t even realise that Facebook is on the internet, truly.)
So before you start putting all of your eggs into your digital basket, really think carefully about your intention.
If you want to reach everyone who has gone dark; who has a physical (or other) disability that stops them using digital interfaces for some reason; whose world is mediated by someone else, like a carer; who is poor, or blind, or even who has no time! then digital is going to fail you unless you invest heavily in your accessibility.
It’s easy to think that accessible content is just about screen readers, appropriate colours, and no automatically playing sounds or videos.
But it is WAY more than that.
It’s problem solving the entire picture.
For example, sometimes it means being in someone’s letterbox.
If you’re like the many thousands of other businesses who haven’t even considered the broad impacts of accessible content, now is the time to have a think about what it means for your customer loyalty.
Send me a message at https://zipmessage.com/leticiamooney and I’ll help you zoom out to see it.
~ Leticia “don’t let the statistics blind you” Mooney