What even is digital accessibility?

Floris Jansen

With the European Accessibility Act coming up in June 2025, there’s lots of buzz around accessibility. In The Netherlands, the legislation hasn’t passed through the House of Representatives yet, so there is still some uncertainty. What does accessibility mean for your product or service?

Accessibility in general

The word

Let’s start by dissecting the word itself: it’s about the ability to access something. For example, it means making sure people can access and use your product or service. This should be the case regardless of impairments, whether they are permanent (low vision), temporary (eye drops) or situational (bright sun). So, accessibility is about taking these impairments into account when designing and building products.


Why is this even a topic? Well, sadly, ableism plays a big role in our world. Our environments and products are often designed for able-bodied people, ignoring people who deviate from that norm. Impairments only become disabilities when something doesn’t work when combined with that impairment. So, our designed world disables people with impairments, and a focus on accessibility is needed to counter this,  and not exclude people with impairments from our society


Including people and doing what is right is wonderful; and it’s even a human right! But you might need more arguments to move accessibility up on the list of priorities.

More users

The most obvious added benefit from an accessible product, is that it will allow more users to use it or buy through your website. There are multiple ways to define disabilities, so the figures differ (the Dutch government says 2 million Dutch citizens (about 11%) have an impairment, the European Council says 1 in 4 EU citizens (about 27%) have a disability). Regardless of how you count, those people might not be able to complete an order in your webshop, or use the main function of your product, if you don’t take accessibility into account.


Accessibility also breeds innovation. Designing a solution for people with certain impairments can make the product easier to use for everyone, such as a kitchen tool brand which was designed for people with arthritis but worked better for everyone, or curb cuts which help wheelchair users get on the sidewalk but help people with strollers and suitcases, too. In some cases, entire propositions and products are the result of accessible design, such as online shopping.

Other points

Some other benefits might include improved SEO of your website, and an extra point for your corporate social responsibility program. Lastly, it’s also a legal requirement in some contexts, but we’ll get to that in the next part of this series.


By designing and building your product accessibly, you’re including people who might otherwise be left out because of their impairments. And it leads to some secondary benefits, too. In future parts of this blog we’ll touch on how to get started, the guidelines and legislation and what hurdles you might face. But if you already want to go deeper, we’ve listed some design-specific tips and resources on our UX playbook.

Floris Jansen
UX Researcher

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