Web accessibility is an important topic for any organisation that relies on its website to communicate with customers, employees, or other stakeholders. Making sure your site is accessible to everyone is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.
In this article, we’ll introduce some of the basics of web accessibility, explain its benefits, both internal and external and provide some tips on how you can make your site more accessible in order to reach a wider audience and improve your bottom line.
What is web accessibility?
the quality of being able to be entered or used by everyone, including people who have a disability.
Web accessibility can be defined as the practice of making web content available to all users regardless of their physical abilities. It’s an important concept that ensures that people with disabilities such as blindness, deafness or impaired motor skills can interact with a website in the same way and have the same access to information and resources that someone without any impairment would have.
Web accessibility isn’t just good for disabled people—it is also beneficial for those who do not use a traditional mouse or keyboard, like people using mobile phones or voice search technologies like Amazon Alexa. It’s important to note that web accessibility doesn’t just focus on creating a website or application that works for people with certain conditions but also offers equal access and opportunities to everyone.
Some common accessibility barriers
When we think of accessibility on the web, most of us don’t consider how many potential barriers can stand in our way. Some common issues include images without alternate text, poor colour contrast ratios, applications that aren’t compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers or voice recognition software, and multiple levels of navigation that are difficult to follow.
Additionally, some page design features, like too much animation or scrolling, can interfere with effective use. While these challenges may seem minor, they can create serious problems for people who rely on assistive technology or have various forms of disability. It’s important to be aware of possible issues and take steps to ensure your website is as accessible as possible.
Let’s look at some of the benefits
Making your website more accessible can be extremely beneficial for you and your business. By making it more user-friendly, you will attract a larger audience, allowing you to reach potential customers who may not have noticed you before. Having an accessible website also provides users with a significantly better experience, making them more likely to stay longer and spend more time on your site. This allows for increased engagement with your content which means higher rankings in search results and more possible conversions.
Additionally, by putting effort into building an accessible website, you will demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion in all capacities. Creating content that is available to everyone opens up many opportunities to boost brand awareness and loyalty while strengthening customer relationships. All of these factors will lead to increased traffic, sales, and profit margins.
Finally, by making your website accessible to people with disabilities, you will ensure a place for them to access the services and products that you offer. This will not only broaden your audience, but you may even separate yourself from competitors who have not taken the necessary steps to be wholly accessible.
Web accessibility for social good
The internet has increasingly become one of the most important aspects of life in the modern world. Access to the internet provides an incredible amount of opportunities, such as a global connection, access to knowledge, increased communication capabilities, online financial platforms, and much more.
Web accessibility is a critical asset for disabled or impaired users, as it allows them to navigate the web with greater ease, creating an environment that is less frustrating and more productive for individuals. Websites can relatively easily be made much more user-friendly for those with physical or cognitive impairments while also helping to create a more inclusive society overall. Without this invaluable resource, these individuals would be significantly disadvantaged in today’s tech-reliant world.
Accessibility guidelines and compliance standards
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Initiative was launched in 1997 with the mission of making the web accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or physical limitations. Since its inception, the W3C has developed multiple accessibility standards and guidelines, including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0). These standards provide developers and organisations with a set of technical requirements they can use to create websites and applications that are usable by people with disabilities. It is worth noting that the term ‘disability’ covers more than physical and permanent disabilities. It also includes temporary and situational disabilities, such as slow internet connections or incompatible hardware.
WCAG 2.0 is composed of four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each principle is further broken down into 12 guidelines that describe best practices for ensuring that a website or application meets the necessary accessibility requirements. Additionally, each guideline contains testable success criteria which must be met if a website or application is to pass an audit for WCAG compliance. The most recent version of WCAG was released in November 2020 and includes updated success criteria as well as improved guidance on how to support cognitive disabilities and low-vision users.
Common tools to improve web accessibility
You can employ a wide range of web accessibility tools and options to make your website easier for all users to view and use. The following common examples may help you expand your web accessibility strategy:
- Alt-text and verbal descriptions of images and video
- Text captions on videos
- Voice command
- Colour contrast settings, such as ‘dark mode’
- Font size options
- Cursor enhancements
- Easy-to-follow content choices
- Consistent page layouts
- Headers and subheaders tagged with the appropriate HTML (H1, H2, etc.)
So, what now?
It’s easy to see that web accessibility is important for everyone. It ensures that people with disabilities can access and use the web, and it also benefits other users by providing improved experiences. By making your website accessible, you’re not only complying with laws and regulations, but you’re also making it easier for everyone to use your site.
If you would like to find out the level of accessibility your platforms offer and if there are any issues that may be affecting your business, reach out to us, and we’ll make it happen.