In a world that is so digitally connected, it is important for businesses to maximize their online presence to achieve their business goals. In particular, websites are one of the most common and effective ways that people can learn about information services, and opportunities. Because every website user is different, it’s important to create a website that can be easily accessed by all users.
Website accessibility addresses the need for inclusivity by ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access and navigate websites with ease. It focuses on creating an inclusive online environment where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully engage with and benefit from the content and functionalities provided.
What is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility refers to designing and developing websites in a way that accommodates the diverse needs and abilities of users. It involves considering various disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, motor disabilities, and cognitive impairments. With accessibility features and established guidelines, websites can remove barriers and provide equal access to information and services for all individuals.
Ensuring website accessibility is not only a matter of ethical responsibility but also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. By complying with accessibility standards, businesses demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and provide a user experience that respects and values the needs of all visitors.
What Are the Key Elements of Website Accessibility?
There are many factors that determine how accessible a website is. Though this is not a full list, these elements are commonly associated with good website accessibility health:
Alt text- describes images with alt tags for screen readers.
Subtitles- provides captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions for multimedia content.
Color Contrast- ensures sufficient contrast between text and background for visually impaired users.
Scalable Text- increases or decreases text size to accommodate visual impairments or reading disabilities.
Keyboard Navigations- makes sure all functionality is accessible via keyboard navigation.
Heading Structure- uses headings to create a logical structure for screen readers.
What Are the Benefits of Website Accessibility?
Accessible websites can be beneficial for both users and businesses. One key advantage is improved user experience through the use of accessibility features. Websites that incorporate accessibility features are found to be more user-friendly, intuitive, and efficient for all visitors.
One example of a common website accessibility feature is the use of alt text descriptions for images. Alt text descriptions benefit users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers. This way, the screen reader can communicate the context of the image through a provided description and help the user to understand the image without having to physically see the image.
Another significant benefit of website accessibility is that it helps to expand and appeal to a business’ target audience. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 16% of the global population lives with some form of disability. Designing websites with accessibility in mind ensures that individuals with disabilities can fully access and engage with the content and services provided. This inclusivity fosters a positive brand image and builds customer loyalty.
What Are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) works with members of its Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to produce guidelines for making websites more accessible. These guidelines are referred to as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and they serve as the industry standard for website accessibility.
WCAG guidelines are based on four fundamental principles. Think of the acronym (POUR):
Perceivable- content is perceivable to all users through alternative text, captions, and appropriate contrast.
Operable- users can navigate and interact with the website using various devices and input methods.
Understandable- content is clear and concise, provides instructions, and minimizes confusion.
Robust- websites are compatible with a wide range of assistive technologies and future web technologies.
When businesses follow WCAG guidelines, they can significantly improve the accessibility of their websites and provide equal access to information and services for all users, regardless of disabilities.
Examples of Websites that Meet Accessibility Standards
Accessible websites are relatively easy to point out compared to websites that are not as accessible.
If a website confuses you, information is unclear, or the colors or graphics are visually distracting, then it’s likely that the website does not meet common accessibility standards. However, if a website is easy to navigate, information is plain and simple, and the visuals are uncluttered and clean, then it’s likely that the website meets common accessibility standards.
We love this list from Hubspot that provides examples of 14 awesome websites that meet accessibility standards. You’ll notice that all of these websites seem to display the key elements of website accessibility that we discussed above.
Let’s Make Your Website More Accessible
Businesses can use website accessibility to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity, foster customer loyalty, and contribute to a more equitable online environment. Website accessibility is an investment in both social responsibility and long-term business success. It just makes business sense to create websites that welcome and accommodate everyone, fostering an inclusive digital landscape for a better online experience.
Need help making your website accessible to all? We can leverage our expertise in website design and development to make your website as accessible as possible. Contact us to learn more about our website services.