There are numerous reasons why website accessibility can be an excellent business decision. Accessibility is important to today’s websites, and it is easily achievable. A professional website designer will be familiar with current guidelines and legal requirements to help your business meet accessibility standards and increase your target base.

What Is Website Accessibility?

Website accessibility means meeting certain accessibility standards that allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy your website’s content. The internet was created as an easily accessible source of information, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t keep the internet open and accessible to anyone. Some of the reasons why adapting your website to individuals with disabilities is a good idea:

  • It increases your audience base. If your website isn’t accessible, you might be missing out on connecting with your customers. Finding and attracting your target audience to your website is not an easy task, so don’t block a portion of your audience from visiting your website.
  • Making your website accessible can provide a competitive advantage. There are certain standards you must meet for your website to be certified, which gives your website a much-needed advantage over your competition. This can be especially important for eCommerce businesses, which are constantly looking to increase revenue and customers.
  • Depending on where you live, you may be legally required to meet accessibility standards. For example, Ontario requires that websites meet certain standards for private and non-profit organizations with 50+ employees. Public sector organizations must also meet required standards. It is just a matter of time until all businesses and other organizations will be required to meet accessibility guidelines.

User Characteristics

Web developers should not assume all users are accessing content using the same web browser, or that they are using the traditional monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Some common user characteristics are:

  • Blindness. Vision impaired individuals use either screen readers that read web content using synthesized speech or a Braille device.
  • Dyslexia. Individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia may also use screen readers, along with software that highlights words or phrases using synthesized speech.
  • Low vision. Those with low vision such as the elderly may use screen magnification software that allows them to zoom into all or a portion of the visual screen.
  • Physical disability. Individuals with physical disabilities may rely exclusively on the keyboard or use assistive technologies such as speech recognition, head pointers, mouth sticks, or eye-gaze tracking systems.
  • Deafness. For the hearing-impaired, video should be captioned and audio must be transcribed.

Additionally, some users may be accessing your website from a mobile device and require functions like font enlargement or have limited broadband width and need faster downloads with limited videos.

The Basic Information on Web Accessibility Compliance

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are important for implementing accessibility. This set of guidelines was recently updated to version 2.0 to help individuals in the field of web development and design to review and implement several updates to help disabled users of the Internet.

WCAG consists of twelve guidelines, governed by four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These guidelines explain why a website should be easily accessible to anyone and how to implement certain functions through the help of snippets of HTML code.

 

Don’t forget about disabled smartphone users. Mozilla’s Developer Network created a helpful guide on the easiest way to achieve mobile accessibility. Mozilla’s guide can teach you about colors, visibility, focus, and text equivalents, as well as other guidelines.

Do-It-Yourself

No matter if you are interested (or not) in following WCAG’s or Mozilla’s guides on web accessibility, there is a lot you can do on your own. Some of the web design elements you can implement are listed below.

Typography

Typography is one of the essential elements in every website’s design. Using a readable font is important to every user who visits your website, but it’s even more important for individuals with vision impairment.

  • Use text on its own rather than text within colorful graphics
  • Select basic, very simple, and easily readable fonts
  • Do not combine more than two typefaces
  • Make sure there’s sufficient contrast between the text and the background
  • Limit the use of font variations, such as bold, italics, and all capital letters
  • Avoid blinking or moving text
  • Centered text is hard to read, so avoid aligning it that way
  • Break up large articles into paragraphs, headings, and bullet points

Images and Videos

Different kinds of media are important in every website design. Media makes your web page dynamic and more colorful and helps you to send your message. Make sure your images include alt text, while videos should be captioned, and they can include transcripts.

Video captions should be properly synchronized along with the audio. YouTube is the most well-known video platform and allows you to add captions and transcripts, too.

Downloadable Documents

If you offer downloadable documents, no matter if they are PDFs or Word documents (or Pages for Mac users), make sure to format them properly. Format your documents like the text on your website using readable fonts and divide your document into understandable sections with headlines and lists. Also, provide alt texts for images.

Testing Your Website

There are several ways to test your website’s accessibility. However, it may be hard for a non-disabled person to do this, which is why there are online tools to help you. Your website is accessible if a disabled person manages to find desired information, navigate with ease, and be satisfied with their overall user experience.

Use an accessibility testing tool to evaluate your site.

  • WAVE Web Accessibility Tool – This straightforward tool allows you to quickly diagnose your website for accessibility errors.
  • AChecker – This tool counterchecks your website against the latest WCAG’s guideless and allows you to export results.
  • Visolve – This must-have tool that transforms colors of your display into the discriminable colors for various individuals with color vision deficiency.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – This tool helps you determine the legibility of text and the contrast of visual elements, such as graphical controls.

Conclusion

Improving your website’s accessibility doesn’t have to be a tedious process. Even if you are not a web designer, there are a lot of things you can implement and change to make your website more accessible. If you’ve just begun designing your website, make sure accessibility is not just an afterthought; instead, make it a part of a responsive design process. This way, your website will be open to anyone, and you’ll benefit from this decision soon after your new digital creation goes live.

 

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