The web helps people seek information to improve their everyday life. Web accessibility permits people with disabilities to use the internet extensively and fairly.
Why businesses should care about accessibility? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 41 million Americans with a disability in 2017, 12.7% of the population in the United States. It clearly shows that businesses can gain more customers by offering more accessible features.
Due to a lack of accessibility features, 23% of Disabled Americans say they never go online.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures that business owners and institutions make public information accessible to everyone regardless of their disabilities. Regardless of laws and regulations, implementing the accessibility standards is essential for inclusiveness.
All users must be able to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. Accessibility can be built into the source code of websites and applications. Web browsers, media players, and apps should support accessibility, as it only boosts the quality of the product.
People with varied disabilities have different accessibility needs and require various Assistive Technologies.
People with visual impairment need to use a screen reader that reads aloud what’s on the screen. A screen reader interacts with the HTML on the web page to give audio feedback to the user. In addition, websites should allow keyboard only interactions on their website and ensuring high color contrast to increase legibility.
People with a hearing disability need to use captions to watch videos.
Someone who cannot use their arms needs to use a mouth stick to type.
People with age-related impairments, such as reduced dexterity, can benefit from graphic organizers, reading assistants and multimedia support.
Accessibility Standards – W3C
Web technologies from W3C, such as HTML, provide support for various accessibility elements. For instance, options to produce text alternatives for pictures, that are read aloud by screen readers and utilized by the search engines when ranking web pages.
W3C, or the World Wide Web Consortium, provides standards to help make the web accessible – which are internationally recognized by governments and businesses.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – WCAG is the most accepted accessibility guide. The standard assures that Web sites must provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. It’s built around four code principles:
- Perceivable – The information must be perceivable by seeing or hearing it.
- Operable – People can use the device by typing, or by giving voice comments.
- Understandable – Information is written in clear and straightforward language.
- Robust – People can use a wide range of assistive technologies.
WCAG and W3C also provide the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines – (ATAG), which specifies the accessibility standards for content management systems (CMS), code editors, and other software.
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines – UAAG, specifies accessibility standards for web browsers and media players.
Inclusion on of Accessibility Guidelines
Here is a diagram showing how businesses can incorporate accessibility into their projects:
Company accessibility guidelines should feed to the design, development, and QA processes. Accessibility requirements should constantly adapt and evolve to the changing legislation.
Here is some accessibility recommendations for businesses:
Businesses should ensure their web services aren’t excluding visitors with disabilities. Creating an accessibility policy provides standards for businesses to implement accessibility into their services. Accessibility training is also helpful for increasing the awareness among employees.
Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines while taking into account the different operating systems, device types, and hardware capabilities.
Design for people with different disability needs by ensuring good color contrast, adding alternative text labels, non text cues, and avoiding flashy elements. In addition, businesses should make their sites compatible with keyboards and screen readers.