A Beginner’s Guide to Website Accessibility
You and I are different. We talk differently, emote differently, understand differently, perform actions differently, and even read this blog differently. Now we may be different because of our abilities, choice, or purely based on our habits.
Suppose you have a business website, an eCommerce website, a blog, or even a single-page portfolio website. In that case, you need to remember that everyone who visits your website is different by choice or ability. It’s important to cater to everyone’s needs.
In our world––building, creating, and managing websites––designing a website for everyone is called website accessibility. It means making your website accessible to anyone, regardless of their ability. This includes people who choose different ways to interact with your website by choice and those who require different tools and content because of their disabilities.
Let’s break this down into smaller chunks, to understand better website accessibility, its importance, the law behind it, and how you can achieve it.
What is Website Accessibility and Who Does it Cater to?
Also known as digital accessibility, website accessibility is the process of understanding the different needs of people and making websites accessible to meet those needs. Considering the varying accessibility issues, both temporary and permanent, allows you to create a website design that is easier to navigate for everyone, thus enhancing user experience.
When thinking of accessibility issues, consider people with movement, hearing, speech, or vision disabilities. It would help if you also considered people with impaired cognitive or neurological functioning. Some people also face age-related accessibility issues, hampering functioning.
While these may be more permanent, you must consider temporary disabilities as a website owner. For example, someone has a broken arm or situational disabilities like trying to watch a video in a noisy area, etc. The idea is to be mindful of how permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities can make it difficult or impossible for a person to engage with your website content––text, navigation, videos, images, and all other forms of media.
The Importance of Website Accessibility
Accessibility is an important issue for everyone, both online and offline. The examples are endless for building ramps accessing public places, wheelchair-accessible toilets, public transport, braille, and audio signs. Due to how great it has helped people with disabilities navigate the physical world, it only makes sense to do the same online.
By making your website accessible, you’re inviting people from all walks of life to engage with you and representing your brand as inclusive. From a business perspective, you are expanding your website user base by being accessible to all, regardless of abilities.
If that’s not enough reason, website accessibility is also a legal requirement!
Here are some links to help you know more about the law behind website accessibility:
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2
- European standard for Digital Accessibility
You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law and join the rising number of website and mobile accessibility lawsuits!
Getting Started with Website Accessibility
If you’re still reading this, good on you!
You understand the need for website accessibility and making your website accessible for everyone, regardless of their abilities––we’re not so different after all!
But you may be wondering, how do you get started? How do you make your website accessible to everyone? Well, a good place to start is by reading and following the Web Content Accessibility Guideline linked above. The guideline lays down all the technical standards to comply with website accessibility laws that fall under four broad categories:
While you’re still assessing the guideline and making notes of everything you need to do to make your website accessible, here are three quick fixes to get started:
Text Alternative for Images
Providing text alternatives for your website images will allow people to engage with your website through a screen reader to get descriptions for your website images.
Not everyone uses a mouse to navigate through a website and uses only their keyboard to do so. Thus, ensure your website is designed and structured in a way that makes it easy for keyboard navigation.
Website Colors and Language
Harsh colors, light colors, and strong color contrasts can make it difficult for some people to interact with your website. Use easy-on-the-eye colors for text, backgrounds, blocks, and all other website elements to make it fully accessible. In the same way, consider people with learning or cognitive disabilities and how your website language aids them. Keep the language simple and easy to comprehend. This might also help all your website users to understand your message better.
Once you’ve done this, a good next step would be a complete website accessibility evaluation. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a complete evaluation of your website to see where you currently stand in terms of accessibility and what more you need to do to match the accessibility standards. Use this website accessibility evaluation checklist to get started.
By now, you will have a complete go-to plan. The evaluation will help you break down your website accessibility needs, and you can begin working on them.
Ready to be fully accessible?
See how nice that sounds? Why would you want to be a partially accessible website, only available for a few? With website accessibility, you can be available for anyone and everyone, regardless of how they engage or learn online, their permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities, and their abilities.
If all this is too overwhelming, let our experts break it down for you and help you build an accessible website.