There are many things to consider when building a website, and accessibility is one factor that can sometimes be overlooked. An accessible website is a site optimized for all people, including those with visual or hearing impairments, motor or learning disabilities.
Having an accessible site is not only about expanding your reach and fighting discrimination, but it’s also a legal requirement in a number of countries, and you’re open to litigation if you enter the US and European markets if you don’t comply with these requirements.
Also, from a business marketing standpoint, design features and functionality mean accessible websites perform better and rank higher in search engine listings. Therefore, your site is likely to attract the attention of a larger potential audience when it becomes available to everyone.
According to the WHO, more than a billion people in the world – 15% of the world’s population – live with some form of disability. Most websites and mobile apps, however, fall short of basic accessibility standards through illegible text, unfavorable color contrasts, or poor navigation. This harms not only users but also website owners: if a website is unavailable, 71% of people with disabilities will leave immediately.
Back in December 2008, the Content Access Guidelines (WCAG) were published, detailing the criteria that all public sector sites must meet. The guidelines have been revised several times and WCAG 2.2 is now due to be published in 2021. As shown in this map, many countries have introduced WCAG standards:
It is important to know how local laws can affect your business if you do not adhere to WCAG standards. The necessary adjustments to become WCAG compliant include both the site interface and the design that can be implemented by installing an access interface on your site, as well as backend code to ensure that your site is configured in the most compatible way.
When making changes to an existing site, you must consider the time and cost to make it more accessible, which will save you having to make changes later in the future and reduce the risk of any lawsuits.
To comply with the rules, your website or mobile app must be “responsive, workable, understandable and trustworthy”. Here are some tips on how to make your site accessible:
- Present the user interface and all textual and visual information in such a way that the audience can easily perceive it.
- Improve color discrimination for visually impaired users with higher contrast options, increased zoom functionality, varying text spacing options, and the ability to focus on content when you hover over it.
- Provide flexibility for different screen orientations and sizes, i.e. mobile devices and iPads, as well as computers.
- Provide textual alternatives to visual information and include captions and subtitles for audio content.
- Create a site with navigation and user interface components that allow easy operation and give the user enough time to digest the content.
- Enable keyboard navigation compatibility by enabling keyboard shortcuts and the ability to access the keyboard using speech input and assistive technologies.
- Develop content that can be presented in multiple ways with assistive technology without losing any of the information.
- Ensure that the operation and information on the site is understandable to both users and assistive technologies.
- Customize site navigation in a way that is easy to predict and logical for any user.
- Turn on data entry assistance to correct user errors
- The site must be robust enough to support assistive technologies, and be adaptable to advances in technology and various external user applications in the future.
- Incorporate Internet Accessible Accessibility (ARIA) tags that improve screen reader compatibility by providing additional information to elements on your site.
- Enable UI tweaks with components and values that the user can set.
You can always contact us and we will offer solutions to make your site as convenient as possible for all possible categories of users.
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