Pratip Biswas May 6th, 2020

Everything You Need to Know About Web Accessibility

Are you sure everyone on the web can easily access your website? ‘Cause if it is not accessible to everyone, you are losing some great business opportunities!

This article is going to put some shades on this “web accessibility” term. Also, you will get to know why it holds so much importance in today’s digital market. 

So, What Does “Web Accessibility” Refer To?

In simpler words, “web accessibility” is an effective way to ensure “everyone on the web” can effortlessly access and use any forms of digital media. It can be a website, or it can be any software application as well. 

Now, why did I focus on the part “everyone on the web”? 

Well, you have to understand that people with any physical disability or cognitive limitations use the web too. A recently made research report highlights that in the United Kingdom; nearly 11 million people have some kind of disability. And it does not mean that every one of them cannot just use the web! 

Of course, many disables use the internet. And they too are part of the audience that seeks favors through digital services. Hence, it is the responsibility of the trades to consider them and craft a hassle-free journey for them on the web. 

This is why paying mind to the web reachability practice while building a website makes sure that everyone can get the most out of the website and interact with the site smoothly. 

How The User Experience Gets Affected By Disability?

To guarantee properly done accessibility, reaching the root of what is causing the hindrance, what is stopping the flawless access is kind of essential. Only then figuring out the base of the issues and coming up with the right way out to resolve the barrier becomes easier.

So, here is a list of some accessibility challenges.

  • Users with visual impairment may face problems while reading a text. Maybe the size of the text needs to be increased. Or maybe they need screen readers!
  • Users, who suffer from color blindness, cannot distinguish between the colors. They face problems in distinguishing text blocks and its background. 
  • Users with dyslexia suffer from not being able to read and spell properly. 
  • There are users out there who feel troubled to click on any link or any small navigation icons.
  • You add video and audio content to your website to keep your visitors engaged. But people with hearing troubles cannot access it! 

Any users who come under the aforementioned categories need assistive technologies so that they can browse the web easily. 

A Sneak Peek to Some Assistive Technologies 

Continuing from the above point, I would like to draw your attention to some advanced technologies that help disable users to get a smooth web browsing experience. 

  • Braille Terminals or Braille Keyboards
  • Screen Reader Software
  • Speech Recognition Software
  • Sign Language or using subtitles for videos on a website
  • Screen Magnification Software
  • Keyboard Overlays

Now, Why Is Web Accessibility Necessary?

See, today, the Internet and Web are crucial parts of everyone’s lives, and it doesn’t need any special explanation. These are the valuable resources that we all need in our lives.

Be it for the government or business organizations, be it for employment or for students to learn better, be it for the healthcare industry to simply recreational activities – to do anything, we access these resources.

Now, do you think it should be accessible to only the people who do not have any kind of disabilities? Of course not! 

You have to keep in mind two factors i.e. an equal opportunity for everyone along with giving everyone the same access. You need to understand that internet access is not considered as a privilege. Rather, it is a right for everyone. And by abiding by the principles of web design that supports accessibility, you can make sure of the fact that your digital presence is accessible to anyone irrespective of their abilities.

Other than this, there are some business benefits of web accessibility too.

A Competitive Advantage in the Market

Honestly, most of the websites built out there are not accessible to “everyone”! In such a scenario, if you make your website keeping the web accessibility factor in mind, it can reach a broader target audience.

Reshaping a shopping website for the disabled buyers out there will increase client numbers on the website, as well as the popularity of it. All because the website is usable for both enabled and disabled audiences. 

This is definitely an added advantage for you over your competitors who are still not giving that much importance to the web accessibility. 

Better Accessibility Ensures Better Usability

The accessibility of your website is high- means; more people can visit and navigate through your website. And when the website traffic is high, the chances of business conversion are high too. The math here is as simple as that!

These accessibility and usability, even though these two are different from each other, they kind of have the same objectives. And the objective is to devise engaging and impressive user experience. These two factors ensure that your website functions properly and delivers a seamless UX to the visitors. 

Americans with Disabilities Act

In the US, this law protects the rights of disabled ones. So, ignoring them as a potential audience can have the same impact as violating the law. And this is absolutely wrong. To abide by this rule and to avert the legal consequences, trades should consider the disabled ones too.

Things to Consider While Making Your Website Accessible to Everyone

So far, you got to know what web accessibility is and how it holds a major significance in the website development and design industry. Now, find out how you can do it i.e. making the website accessible to everyone.

Title Tag

You already know how important the title tag is for SEO purposes. This is crucial for letting Google know and understand “about the web page”. Now, while integrating web accessibility too, this title tag plays a major role. 

The ‘Screen Readers’ prefer having a title tag. It aids the disabled who use screen readers to access a site. 

Using Default HTML Tags

Disables need such tech-help that aid them to go through a site. They prefer taking assistance from ‘Screen Readers’. Now, this device follows a specific method while going through every component on a page along with the texts. When it fails to decipher an element, the one using the device fails to comprehend it too resulting in a poor experience for the users. 

Opting for HTML tags that are set by default is a way out to this problem.

Keyboard Navigation

A site that anyone can navigate seamlessly with just a keyboard is an example of how actually it should be devised. 

However, there is an issue with such navigation buttons that are animated. Usually, screen readers cannot understand that. So, it is advisable not to use such buttons as the dropdowns to ensure better accessibility.

Do Not Forget to Use Subtitles

According to the recent practices, applying audio and video elements to entertain and interact with the visitors on the site is a popular practice. With this, the structure of a website will not fail.

Now, how about a user who has hearing problems? This is why you should always include subtitles.

With video transcription, the website enables Google to read the transcriptions. This allows for better rankings on the SERPs.

Are There Any Tools Available to Check Web Accessibility?

Yes, you can find some effective tools today that can help you to understand whether you are doing the web accessibility right or not. 

Among many freely available tools, here are a few globally popular names.

  • A11Y Compliance Platform
  • Dynomapper
  • Automated Accessibility Testing Tool
  • Accessibility Checklist
  • Accessibility Checker and more.

Tools are available, fine! But buzz sessions with experts are also required to handle the tools in the proper way and analyze the outcomes. Their inputs and guidance are valuable too as they are dealing in the industry for years and have deeper insights to build a site that is accessible to everyone irrespective of their physical abilities. 

Image designed by Freepik.

Pratip Biswas

Pratip Biswas is the Founder and CEO of Unified Infotech, a New York-based web design company that has been featured in Deloitte Fast 500 | Fastest growing tech companies in 2018. His company is working with Enterprises, SMB’s and Start-ups to improve their efficiency through Digital Adoption and help them discover new possibilities through constant innovations. Pratip also writes regularly on Blockchain technology and has been published in publications like "Yourstory", "Dzone" etc.

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