In the years since the Internet was first established, the capabilities of websites and applications have vastly expanded. Now, access to the internet is even hailed as a human right by the UN, as people use it for far more than communication and entertainment, with access to other vital services like healthcare. With this recognition, comes the need to make the internet approachable for anyone who needs to use it, and that idea is known as Website Accessibility.
You have probably already heard the term accessibility on its own, as it usually applies to more physical concerns. Making a building accessible for instance, might mean adding ramps and signs with braille so that people with disabilities can maneuver around the building and understand necessary information.
Making the world accessible for people with disabilities is how we ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and that everyone has access to the same opportunities. This concept extends to the Internet as well, but people may be more unfamiliar with this initiative. After all, a lot of the accessibility initiatives in person are for more visible disabilities, like inhibited movement, or hearing and vision impairments. But when it comes to the internet, there may be a lot of disabilities you are unaware of needing assistance.
Every website should seek to obtain a high level of accessibility, and for businesses, this can also mean offering the opportunity for more customers to be able to access your goods and services. To help businesses understand what Website Accessibility is and how they can account for it on their web pages, we have created this guide to provide some clarity.
What Is Website Accessibility?
Website Accessibility as defined by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), an organized body that establishes Internet accessibility standards, is “When websites and web tools are properly designed and coded, people with disabilities can use them.” One of the reasons the WAI exists is because of the phenomenon of expansion that we mentioned earlier. As the capabilities of the internet expanded, new tools were made available for developers to transform their content and interactivity. However, a lot of this progress was made with abled people in mind, as accounting for disabilities will require more options.
But disabled people should not be left behind in the progress of the internet, so Website Accessibility involves formatting your content and developing your website in a way that makes it universally accessible. WAI has established that accessible web content means that anyone can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web (this includes contributing to the web as well). Web accessibility goes further than just disabilities though, and extends to people using mobile and smart devices, connection disruptions or environmental issues, and even older people losing some of their abilities as they age.
Why is Website Accessibility Required?
With how much the Internet has grown, access to the Internet is almost imperative for life. At the very least, equal access to opportunity should be available to everyone, and that means making the Web accessible to those with disabilities as well.
The internet has also provided a lot of people with disabilities access to opportunities that they would not have been able to manage without the web. With advancements in print, audio and visual media platforms, people with disabilities can access and interact with a lot more information than they could through more traditional forms.
Outside of caring for those with disabilities, businesses should also consider that Website Accessibility is great for their growth as well. We mentioned before how accessibility went beyond solely people with disabilities, and also accounted for other disruptions and issues that may arise. Creating your content with the goal of making your brand and information as approachable as possible is a great way to extend your market reach and win over new customers.
So, while Website Accessibility is required due to the Internet’s status as a new human right, businesses should see accessibility as an opportunity that they can enthusiastically opt into. In your normal marketing goals, you would consider how to make your content palatable for your intended audience, with website accessibility, you are offering the widest reach for your content as you possibly can.
How Can I Make My Website ADA Compliant?
The ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act and was officially signed into law in 1990. As you can probably guess, this law is concerned with ensuring the rights of disabled American citizens and making sure that accessibility is provided for them throughout all areas of life, including things like public schools, transport, and any other locations or services they might need.
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As time progressed and more information on disabilities and services like the Internet expanded, amendments were put into place to ensure that care was still being received. Now, the ADA also offers guidelines on how you can make your website “compliant” with their internet accessibility standards.
Currently, they offer a couple of different tiers of standards, the minimum standards for compliance are Level A and include the following guidelines.
- Alt-Text provided for non-text content
- Captions for videos
- No flashing lights
- Transcripts or audio descriptions
- Audio does not autoplay and can be paused
- Content should be navigable using a keyboard
Level AA is the next tier of accessibility, and lays out more intense guidelines
- Moderate color contrast ratio for visual impairments
- All underlined text should correspond with a link
- Must provide solutions to input errors
- Prioritize text over images where relevant
Overall, these guidelines were chosen with a wide variety of disabilities in mind and to provide as much assistance for all people as they possibly can. With that being said, your experience with basic web design might already be stretched thin, and accounting for these extra requirements may sound overwhelming. In that case, consider calling on the services of accessiBe.
Get Started with accessiBe
Throughout our experience working with businesses, making their content optimized for SEO and other marketing purposes, we also realized the necessity of providing solutions for organizations to simplify the accessibility process. Many businesses do want to be accessible, it’s just that accounting for all these rules without disrupting the content can seem like too much of a challenge.
Thankfully, with Accessibility software like accessiBe, you can achieve ADA compliance for your website and achieve true web accessibility without needing to worry about doing the labor yourself. This software program uses machine learning and computer vision technologies to adjust your website content to meet the necessary accessibility criteria. These adjustments are just enough to maintain compliance, without sacrificing the integrity of your content.
Even better, this software updates every 24 hours, meaning you can rest assured that you are maintaining your compliance without issue. This, in tandem with accessibility audits and even a certificate of accessibility provided, means that you can not only achieve accessibility goals, but you can excel at them.
Accessibility is important for respecting the dignity of all people, including the disabled, but its value to your business should also not be understated. A business should be interested in making all of their brand as accessible as possible to audiences, and by reaching compliance with the help of accessiBe, you can ensure this accessibility.