Introduction to Web Accessibility
Web accessibility refers to the inclusive fashion of making websites accessible for people with all abilities and disabilities. All users can have equal access to information and functionality when sites are properly designed, developed and edited.
Any website owner would like to attract as many visitors as possible. However, few take the necessary steps to ensure that everyone can use their website. There are around millions of users out there who rely on accessible sites and if you do not take the time to understand their needs, everyone is going to miss out.
In many aspects of life, the Web is an increasingly important resource: education, health care, employment, government, trade, recreation, and more. It is essential that the Web is accessible to ensure equal access and equal opportunities for people with diverse skills. In the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), access to information and digital technology, including the Internet, is defined as a fundamental human right.
The Internet web offers many people with disabilities the promise of unprecedented access to information and communication. That is, it is much easier to overcome the accessibility barriers to print, audio and visual media through web technologies.
Standards Used For Complete Web Accessibility and Its Benefits
Depending on your location, you may need to follow different sets of accessibility standards. Fortunately, a comprehensive list called the WCAG 2.0 has been widely adopted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is the foundation set of guidelines for most other standards.
Coding accessibility into your website has quite a few advantages that go beyond even compliance with the minimum accessibility rules:
- Social Responsibility
On a daily basis, people with disabilities are facing many difficulties. If they are among your customers or users, it is plain human decency to allow them to interact with your web app. When our population evolves, to be mindful of ALL of our different users, we need to educate the people responsible for generating communication channels.
Many of the good accessibility practices are general principles of good engineering and design. Often the poorly written code cannot be read. Accessibility is just a matter of doing a good job for those of us who aspire to learn our craft.
- User Experience
Accessibility standards are designed to make it easier for people to access and use the website. Most of them improve accessibility as a side effect and directly benefit all users, including those without disabilities. For instance, Readable text helps not only poor-sighted people, but also all users.
- A Larger Customer Base Market
With reports of one in five people in the US claiming some kind of disability, 20% of a group’s population is just too big to ignore. It is still a minority, but it includes a lot more people than most of us would think.
- Efficient Code
You will be amazed at the benefits once you have developed a clean, accessible code base. Efficient code can contribute to improvement.
- Website maintenance
- Faster page loading
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Device compatibility
Why Making Your Website Accessible Should Be a Priority
Accessibility promotes social equality for disabled people and others like such as:
There are four major types of disability-hearing, sight, motor and cognitive impairment. There are a multitude of conditions in each type. While communicating with the internet, they create different challenges, which require different strategies to overcome these challenges. Let us discuss some of the best practices that tackle every particular type of disability. You will notice that most of these practices are not about the technology we are using, but about how we are designing our software. This means that everyone involved in the process of development can contribute to improved accessibility.
- Hearing (Auditory) Disabilities
Hearing impairments range from mild hearing impairment to deafness. The best way to assist these users is to avoid relying sound only for the transmission of critical information. Alternatively, add additional press for assistance in tandem. If you are using audio, for example, make sure that it supports full captioned subtitles. Provide a transcript if you are using audio. Subtitles and transcripts should be complete and critical lines should not be missed.
Subtitles and transcripts are strongly applied. In addition, ensure that background noise is minimized for both video and audio, so that the information conveyed is as audible as possible.
- Visual Disabilities – Blindness
Blind people always choose screen readers as a solution. Such apps use natural language to parse the HTML and explain it to the user. It has its specifics to develop for screen readers, so a later section of the article will focus exclusively on them. In addition, a user with blindness will be working with the input device will be different. It needs vision to use a mouse. Instead, a blind person will need full support for the keyboard.
- Cognitive Disabilities – Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a type of disability that some people find it difficult to read: dyslexic people can confuse letters or see them rotating or crowded together. We will list readability guidelines in the following paragraphs. One should strongly commit to overcoming dyslexia’s problems.
- Visual Disabilities – Low Vision
Using a readable interface is the main way to accommodate low vision. The elements of the UI must be large and clear. Nonetheless, text is more complicated, and we will mention readability guidelines in a later section. These are designed to help low-vision individuals.
Another important aspect is contrast. High contrast in the UI between elements and colors will help low vision people. There are tools available to examine whether contrast with this condition is sufficient for people. Here you can find the tools recommended by Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Contrast is indeed troublesome in most page layouts used today. High-contrast themes often do not work well with regular themes, and if you want to achieve good contrast, you would probably prefer not to sacrifice your website’s visual appeal. Including a high-contrast theme as an option on your website is a good compromise, much like the language change option.
- Visual Disabilities – Colorblindness
Colorblindness, too, is not a common disorder-colorblindness is special. Keep in mind that the explanations below are very simplified. Deuteranomaly is the most common difficulty in perceiving green light. It is called protanomaly and is a little less common to have difficulty perceiving red light. The visible spectra of these two disorders are somewhat similar and they are more commonly referred to as red-green colorblindness. Tritanomaly is a blue color perception problem and very rare.
- Motor Disabilities
Quick and/or repeated acts, actions involving pressing a button, activities with time limits-all of these are challenging for motor handicapped people and can cause physical pain. They have to be avoided, but it is not that simple. The following example shows why: imagine you have a slider that requires you to hold a moving button. Your solution may be to allow the slider to shift by tapping a button, but if the step is too small, a repetitive movement that is not much of a change will result. The general rule is that a website needs to be designed so that a user can use it conveniently with only one keyboard and only one mouse.
- Cognitive Disabilities Related to Sensory Overload & Motion Sickness
Many patterns can cause sickness of motion or sensory overload (e.g. epilepsy). These are usually quick effects such as shaking, bright lights, flashing rapidly (three times / second or faster). Repeating patterns of movement, fast or not, may cause the same problems. A good example of a repeated yet sluggish page motion is a falling snowflakes animation that we often see around the winter holidays. Sharp changes in the content of a page using dramatic transitions are also problematic; instead, we need to use smooth transitions. A good practice is to avoid troublesome effects, but allow users to disable them as a compromise if you want to use them.
- Web Accessibility for People with Epilepsy
Stop all sorts of blinks and animations automatically and quickly with the click of a button. People suffering from epilepsy cannot be exposed to flashing or flickering lights and animations. They are therefore constantly afraid to use the internet, as almost every website today has a flashing banner that is meant to capture attention. While these banners are useful to achieve their goal, they are dangerous and likely to cause seizure for people with epilepsy.
This enables people with epilepsy to immediately stop all animation styles (including, but not limited to, images, GIFs, CSS or JS) with a single click, enabling them to browse the web quickly, without any apprehension.
- Cognitive Disabilities – Learning Difficulties
Simplicity is essential. Simplify your scenarios, make your interface simple and clutter free. Use simple language; avoid words, which look fancy. Always provide precise information and clear instructions.
Effective readability means that your website is open to a number of people with disabilities: readable subtitles and translations will help people with hearing problems and understandable text will help people with low vision or dyslexia in general. In a large font size, a thumb rule is to use simple and clean sans-serif font.
Many people are using assistive technologies to browse the internet to work around these issues. As such, nearly anyone can browse the web. What’s more, by building the page with usability in mind, you can significantly improve their experiences. Websites undergoing a project of web accessibility lose compliance as soon as the first update is deployed. Complete sections of the site become inaccessible after only one year.
Such technology does not need a human to go through and analyze the site; to do exactly that, it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. These technologies scan, analyze, and decipher your website worldwide, first and only of their kind, thus ensuring that your website is compliant and accessible at all times, regardless of any updates you may post.
We believe that we have managed to convey on how important accessibility is and have given you useful and practical ideas to overcome some of the challenges of creating an open website efficiently.
Ready to turn your website accessible? Then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us make it together!