Site accessibility focuses on making a website’s content accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities.
Why is accessibility important?
According to the US Census Bureau, almost one in five people, or 19 percent of the population had a disability in 2010. This means a website could potentially be providing an unequal or limited experience to users, particularly those with disabilities.
In terms of metrics, 19 percent of the US population can represent a significant number of users. For example,the fifth most popular website in the world, Wikipedia, received seven million page views in English back in July 2017. Nineteen percent of seven million amounts to 1.33 million; that is a huge chunk of page views potentially providing an inaccesible web experience.
In order to build a more equal web experience, key questions should be considered when building and maintaining a website, including:
- How do you go about building a web experience everyone can interact with?
- How would a user with visual, motor, or cognitive impairment interact with a website?
- How would a user with a broken arm experience a site?
- How would a user with two broken arms experience a site?
- Can a user fully navigate and interact with a site using the keyboard and screen reader?
- Is there sufficient color contrast?
- Are there page titles and h1s?
- How does a website regularly maintain and check for accessibility?
How does a site become accessible?
The first step toward building an accessible site is having conversations with stakeholders, developers, designers, product, and individuals with disabilities highlighting the importance of accessibility.
Secondly, there are guidelines, tools, and tests that can be leveraged to address key accessibility questions. W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, publishes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) on site accessibility. These guidelines provide a single shared standard on making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. They highlight key accessibility areas, including:
- providing text alternatives for non-text content
- providing captions for multimedia
- presenting a meaningful sequence of content to the user
- having page titles
- having headings and labels describe content’s topic/purpose
How do you check for a site for accessibility?
There are various tests and tools that can be used to check for accessibility. W3 provides a list of accessibility tools here.
In addition, manual accessibility tests can be performed on a site, including: checking keyboard only navigation, checking color for high contrast, checking using a screen reader, and turning off all images, etc.
Having an accessible website is an important step toward making the web equally accessible to everyone. By following accessibility guidelines and by having processes in place that check for accessibility, a website can provide a more equal user experience and reach a broader user base.
Feel free to use the accessibility tools mentioned above to check your website for accessibility compliance. Also, feel free to reach out to us! We’d love to talk to you more about accessibility.
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Author: Linda Gonzalez