In today’s digital world, the internet has become essential to our daily lives. It has changed how we communicate, learn, work, and conduct business. As more and more organizations are moving their operations online, they need to ensure that everyone can access their website and the information they provide. Unfortunately, as internet usage has increased in recent years, only 3% of websites are accessible to over 2 billion people with disabilities worldwide.
What is website accessibility?
Website accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites that can be used by all people, including those with disabilities. The goal of website accessibility is to make sure that all users, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and interact with websites easily and effectively. This means that websites must be designed and coded to accommodate different disabilities. These include visual, hearing, cognitive, and motor impairments.
Why should you make your website accessible?
People with disabilities face various barriers when it comes to accessing websites. For example, people with visual impairments cannot read small text or view images. On the other hand, people with hearing impairments may have difficulty accessing audio or video content. People with cognitive impairments may have trouble understanding complex language or navigating complicated website structures, and people with motor impairments may have difficulty using a mouse or keyboard.
Website accessibility is not only a moral and ethical responsibility. It’s also the law in many countries. In the US, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that all electronic and information technology (EIT), including websites, be fully accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. The number of lawsuits related to the ADA has increased sharply in recent years, leading to large settlements, fines, and damage to business reputations.
How do you ensure website accessibility?
Ensuring website accessibility involves various techniques and practices. Some of these include:
● Testing website accessibility with assistive technologies
Testing website accessibility with assistive technologies, such as screen readers and speech recognition software, can help identify accessibility issues that you may need to address. You may also use a website accessibility checker to find potential issues at the code level.
● Providing alt text for images
Alternative text, also known as alt text, is a short description of an image that is embedded within the HTML code. This helps people with visual impairments and screen reader users understand the content of the image.
● Using descriptive link text
Link text should describe the content of the page it links to, rather than using generic terms like “click here” or “read more.”
● Providing captions and transcripts for audio and video content
Captions and transcripts allow people with hearing impairments to access audio and video content.
● Ensuring proper color contrast
Proper color contrast ensures that people with visual impairments can read the text on a website. Most experts suggest pairing a light background, such as cream or off-white, with a dark text color, such as black.
● Designing clear and consistent website navigation
The clear and consistent website navigation makes it easier for people with cognitive impairments to understand and navigate a website.
Keyboard accessibility ensures that people with motor impairments can navigate and interact with a website using only a keyboard.
There are many benefits to ensuring website accessibility beyond legal compliance. Accessible websites are more user-friendly, providing a better user experience for all users. They also have a broader reach, allowing businesses to reach a wider audience, including people with disabilities. Accessible websites can also improve a business’s reputation, demonstrating that the business is committed to social responsibility and inclusivity.
Website accessibility is no longer an option
While website accessibility used to be a feature that only a few websites had, it is now considered a critical aspect of web design and development. It ensures that people with disabilities can access and use websites effectively, regardless of their abilities.
Website accessibility is not only a legal requirement but also a moral and ethical responsibility. By implementing website accessibility techniques and practices, businesses can create more user-friendly websites that reach a wider audience and demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility.