What Is Web Accessibility, and Why Is It Important?

image of a woman holding a tablet in front of a lap top

What Is Web Accessibility?

Accessibility to the web means the ability of people with disabilities (people with reduced functionality) to use the internet, perceiving, receiving, understanding, and using the information published on the internet and contributing to its development through their additions or corrections.

You must ensure that your content is accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities.

Importance of Accessibility

Web accessibility and accessibility, in general, are fundamental human rights that should be afforded to everyone. Building an accessible web environment envisages adaptation of the virtual environment concerning all disorders that may affect regular access, including locomotor, perceptual, and cognitive.

By neglecting web accessibility, you are denying equal access to a large group of people. The fast advancements in technology and the internet have raised concerns about the possibility of certain groups being excluded from accessing crucial services offered by private and public sectors.

It is our responsibility to make sure that all people have the same level of access to the resources that the digital world has to offer. Digital and Mobile accessibility benefits everyone, not just users with disabilities, but also means equal access to technology for people with disabilities to ensure their independence and participation in society.

People holding mobile devices

Image source: FreePik.com

Importance of Accessibility for Individuals

Web accessibility is a practical necessity in our interconnected world, where everyone deserves equal participation in online experiences. It enables everyone to have equal and easy means of entry to the Web space, for example – screen readers for those with visual impairments.

Importance of Accessibility for Businesses

When you create your business websites accessible to everyone, you also create opportunities for individuals who may have been previously excluded. It’s a simple yet powerful way to expand your reach and benefit people’s lives.

Importance of Accessibility for Society

By embracing web accessibility and inclusiveness, we can move towards a world where everyone is valued, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It is essential to consider accessibility in web design and development.

How Is Web Accessibility Enforced?

It is not only a moral responsibility but also a legal obligation to create web content that is easily accessible to everyone. Many countries have introduced laws and regulations prioritizing web accessibility, with specific levels of compliance required for websites.

Failure to comply can result in legal action or fines. Therefore, businesses and organizations must take web accessibility seriously and ensure that their websites are accessible to all.

image of a woman holding a tablet in front of a lap top

Image source: FreePik.com

Web Accessibility Standards

Web accessibility guidelines are created to guarantee that digital content and technologies are straightforward to access and use. Web accessibility standards ensure that digital content is easy to use for everyone, regardless of their abilities.

The most recognisable guide is the “WCAG” – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The criteria described in W3C cover many aspects of digital accessibility, like providing text alternatives for non-text content, ensuring the content can be navigated using a keyboard, implementing clear and consistent navigation, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies.

man in a wheelchair accessing the web space

Image source: FreePik.com

How to Make Your Website Accessible?

To achieve accessibility, you must cover the following steps while designing and developing your website:

  • Understand Accessibility Guidelines: By familiarizing yourself with these guidelines, you can create a more welcoming and user-friendly experience for visitors.
  • Provide Alternative Text for Images: Make your posts more inclusive for visually impaired users by adding descriptive alt text to your images!
  • Use Semantic HTML: Use proper HTML elements to structure content for assistive technologies’ correct interpretation and navigation.
  • Ensure Keyboard Accessibility: Make your website keyboard accessible so you can be sure you have an accessible website.
  • Caption and Transcribe Multimedia: Add captions and transcripts to make videos and audio content accessible to people with hearing problems.
  • Design for Color Accessibility: Using means other than color to convey information and ensure adequate color contrast for text and interactive elements is vital.
  • Test with Assistive Technologies: Make your website accessible by testing it with assistive technologies such as screen readers and keyboard navigation to identify potential barriers.
  • Provide Clear and Consistent Navigation: Ensure your website has consistent and easy-to-use navigation menus and landmarks to help users navigate the site and find content quickly.
  • Offer Accessibility Features: Consider implementing accessibility features such as resizable text, adjustable contrast, and content skipping options.
  • Regularly Review and Update Accessibility: It is essential to continuously monitor and update your website to ensure ongoing accessibility compliance, mainly when adding new content or features.
  • Educate Your Team: Teach designers, developers, and content creators accessibility best practices to integrate accessibility into all website development processes.

User-centered design principles must be followed when striving for an accessible virtual space.

First of all, this is the “visibility principle” of the information, the observance of which helps the designer to create and provide the information in such a way that the user can build correct mental ideas about the form and content of the relevant information pocket.

By prioritizing accessibility during website design and development, you can create a user-friendly experience for all visitors, regardless of their abilities.

The navigation elements and the intuitive arrangement of the “first page” are essential. It should follow the “center-right space” principle for the most critical information. From the point of view of the user and his purely physiological givens, the most quickly visible part of the information on a given screen is placed in the center-right space.

The main aim is that the first impression of the “arrangement” of the information is the right one to prevent the user from “wandering”, “digging”, and “returning” from page to page.

Another principle is the “principle of minimum memory load”. The functions of the individual information pockets should follow each other or have a strict form that is as unambiguous as possible.

It is suitable for the user to recognise the elements of the information pockets to navigate without the “back” button of the browser. New components and functions should follow the ones already familiar to the user. The “error-solution” principle is also important when creating a virtual space for people without significant “experience”.

Incorrect action by the user, such as clicking on the wrong link, returns the user to the “back” button of the browser. It is essential that the number of such “returns” is as small as possible, while at the same time, the user is directed to leave the closed circle.

The user’s unpleasant feeling that he cannot cope usually makes him look for other opportunities in the virtual space.

a man holds a big key that "unlocks" the web

Image source: FreePik.com

What Are the Risks?

There are some potential challenges, such as legal compliance issues and higher retrofitting costs.

Implementing web accessibility can also lead to more significant innovation and a more inclusive online experience for everyone. While it may seem daunting due to legal compliance and potential costs, embracing accessibility offers numerous benefits.

By prioritizing accessibility, you can provide a better user experience, reach a wider audience, and demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion. It can spark innovation by encouraging creative solutions that make technology more usable for everyone.

Investing in web accessibility mitigates risks, strengthens your brand reputation, and fosters positive relationships with customers and users.

Conclusion

The importance of web accessibility extends far beyond mere legal or technical requirements. We must prioritize accessibility in web design and development, creating a more inclusive digital landscape where everyone can fully participate and flourish, regardless of their abilities.

Embracing accessibility is about building a fairer and more equitable online environment for all, not just meeting legal requirements. By helping and assisting accessibility, we can enhance the online experience for everyone, making it a more positive and engaging space.

By all means, we must continue to promote and prioritize accessibility, maintain confidence that it will align with legal requirements and create a more optimistic and enthusiastic online experience for all of us.

Frequently asked questions

What Is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility is regulation that ensures that websites and digital content are usable and accessible to people with disabilities.

Are There Specific Guidelines or Standards for Web Accessibility?

There are globally recognised guidelines called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

What Are the Consequences of Not Prioritising Web Accessibility?

Legal risks include lawsuits or fines for non-compliance with accessibility regulations like the ADA or the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

Share this article:

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp