As you can see, the benefits of ensuring web accessibility are many. Apart from ensuring compliance to the accessibility regulations put forth by the authorities, web accessibility is an important consideration for business websites too to ensure that their products and services reach to a wider audience by covering people with disabilities too. This is considered to be very important thinking from the humanistic perspective too as it makes sure that things are not shut for the disabled users.
Ensuring complete web accessibility for your website offers you with many unique benefits. Most importantly, as noted above, it will expand your potential reach. You can find the math so evident here. If a greater number of users gets access to your site, then you naturally grow your user base. This will put you a step ahead of the competitors who may not have taken steps to ensure accessibility.
Provided accessibility, you can get benefitted of all the visitors of all category, including disabled getting access to your website features. For this, the primary consideration is for making your website accessible to all in terms of its usability and overall design. Adding to it, you may also make your website more flexible and future-proof.
More importantly, it is also critical to note that many countries have passed specific laws related to technology accessibility to all. To be legally compliant, you need to match the specified standards.
Ensuring web accessibility compliance
If you are concerned about not being compliant with web accessibility standards yet, thankfully, you are not alone. Covering its various aspects on the go, web accessibility initiative is running since 1997 in order to make the internet the best place for all. We can see many individual initiatives also as how WordPress has done its own Accessible projects for their development platform. There are many other community-driven initiatives, too like A11Y, which provides resources and guidance in order to make accessible websites.
An overview of web accessibility terms
While making or restructuring a website or web-based application, you need to analyze the accessibility requirement at the first point and also ensure compliance through the development process. If you can identify the accessibility problems at the first point, it becomes much easier to address those on the go.
There are also many evaluation tools to help with this. In fact, a single tool alone cannot determine whether the website meets all the accessibility requirements. For this, an audit based on the human evaluation by knowledgeable experts is required. It is also important to run a conformance evaluation to determine how well the web pages and web applications meet the standards of accessibility.
For this, the conventionally used conformance testing mechanism is the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology by W3C (WCAG-EM). WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) conformance can be done effectively with the help of this evaluation methodology. The WCAG-EM reporting tool will get you the detailed evaluation report as per the WCAG standards. It will also help you follow the WCAG-EM steps and generate the reports based on the accurate inputs you provide.
Why is it important?
Before considering why is accessibility important for a website, let’s have a quick check as what the word ‘accessibility’ covers. Simply, accessibility considers everyone’s ability to access internet content and tools irrespective of their age, gender, devices used, and abilities or disabilities. As per Wikipedia definition, “Accessibility refers to custom designing of products, systems, services, devices, or environments to be used by people who suffer from disabilities.”
So, we can assume that Web Accessibility is the best way to ensure an inclusive approach to your website development by considering all types of users in mind. To put it in other terms, we can say that:
- Web accessibility simply refers to the ability of people having disabilities also to use the web.
- People with disabilities should be able to understand, perceive, navigate, and engage with the web elements, plus they can also contribute to the web.
- Going a step ahead, web accessibility also should ensure benefits to those with conditional, situations, or temporary disabilities too as old age, medical conditions, slower internet access, etc.
Types of disabilities
To understand the situation better, a developer needs to know what difficulties are caused by various disabilities in accessing web content. Disability is the condition of body or mind, which makes it difficult for an individual to perform certain activities. There are three primary modes of disability as:
- Permanent disability: A person is completely disabled, which will last for a lifetime as blind, deaf, etc.
- Temporary disability: Means a person is suffering from a temporary condition of physical or cognitive disability which hinders him or her from acting normally for the time being.
- Situational or conditional disability: This is the inability of a user to perform things normally in an adverse situation like slow internet connection.
Making web accessible
Making your website accessible to all depends on how you develop and design the web elements. Here are some tips.
Alt tags or alternative HTML attribute are used to describe an image or graphic in the HTML. This is something like using the code as:
Even while you use some visual tool which hides the HTML code while building a website, you can effectively make use of the HTML to enter proper image description. In fact, nothing will happen if you leave the (alt=” “) empty in the finish of the web page, but when someone uses the screen readers to understand the content, they won’t get any clear picture about what your page is all about.
Similar to using alt tags properly, you may also take care of using better tables, prepare the keyboard navigation with the special needs of disabled people and aged people in mind, Use default HTML tags, proper captions to images and media, maintain the text transcripts of video contents, and also add closed captions for the media.
So, always have the need for web accessibility in your mind while building websites or making modifications to your web pages. Doing this will ensure that you are building it for everyone from the humanitarian perspective and also that you reach to more by covering the minorities too from the business promotion point of view.