Having proper shelter and good sleep is one of our most basic physiological needs, required for human survival. However, people with disabilities are at a disadvantage when it comes to housing and home ownership. The low employment rate of people with disabilities means they earn less income overall or even no income to spend on suitable accommodations. They are often dependent on family members or are moved to institutions where they are isolated from their local communities.
Now it should be easier than ever to take care of people’s need for housing as we live in the technological era and have more ways to search for a home or a place to stay. Housing association and real estate websites are an easy way to gain information about the available options on the market. Users can quickly make comparisons and evaluate the properties found even before visiting them in person.
Many of these real estate agencies and housing bodies have implemented specific policies that cater for the needs of disabled people and prioritise them when allocating accommodation, but if their websites and mobile apps are not accessible, they only exclude people with disabilities further. Having equal access to housing means nothing if someone is unable to fill in online applications or navigate a site to find the information they need.
People with disabilities deserve to have freedom of choice in where they want to live and the chance to participate in their local communities. Therefore, IA Labs performed a manual accessibility audit of the home pages of the top real estate and housing associations in Ireland as part of the Digital Accessibility Index (DAI) 2022. A home page can give a good idea as to how accessible a website is overall, because website headers, footers, and navigation sections are tested as part of the home page.
Although the organisations running these websites aren’t public sector bodies and do not yet need to meet the EU regulations for digital accessibility, they provide an essential service that should give people, no matter their disability, equal access and opportunity to make informed decisions according to their housing needs.
IA Labs’ full findings on the digital accessibility of Irish housing and real estate websites can be found in the below link to the DAI 2022.
If you have any further questions about the Digital Accessibility Index or your organisation’s part in it, or if you need help with any other digital accessibility issue, please do not hesitate to contact IA Labs.