The Web is fundamentally meant for everybody. It is designed to work for all people regardless of their hardware, software, location, hardware, or even ability. Thus, the idea is to create interfaces that are accessible to people with a wide range of sight, hearing, movement, and cognitive abilities.
Yes, that includes people with disabilities.
People with disabilities should have equal access to the information and functionality available on the Web. This means that when a website is designed, coded, and published, people with disabilities can use it just as well as anyone else.
Accessibility is defined as the measurement of a user’s ability to use products and services, and the extent to which and the ease with which they can achieve their goals.
A common misconception is that accessibility requires a focus on people with disabilities. However, accessibility is about inclusion for everyone, including those who have temporary impairments (for example, a broken arm), situational limitations (for example, unable to see a screen in bright sunlight), and those who do not consider themselves to have a disability but still have difficulty using some products and services (for example, older adults, new parents, or people who are not familiar with a particular technology).
Many different types of disabilities can impact a person’s ability to use the Web. These include, but are not limited to:
- Blindness or low vision
- Deafness or hearing loss
- Mobility impairments
- Cognitive impairments
Designing with accessibility in mind enables people with a diverse range of abilities and disabilities to interact with, understand, perceive, interact and contribute to the web. In other words, accessibility is essential for the web to truly be accessible and usable for everyone.
Why Is It Important?
When a site or application is accessible, it maximizes the potential audience by making it usable by as many people as possible. There are many different ways to create an accessible website. However, all efforts should aim to make sure that everyone can use the site in some way, shape, or form.
Accessibility design is all-inclusive, maximizing ease of use to reach ability levels. This, in turn, leads to products that are all-inclusive regardless of the context. Additionally, accessibility design leads to forming the Universal Design, which is the practice of designing to maximize the user.
What Is The Difference Between Accessibility, Usability, And Inclusion?
Accessibility: The quality of a product or service that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.
Usability: The quality of a product or service that can be used by people to achieve their goals. In the process, the focus is on promoting an effective, efficient, and functional design that enhances web use for all users. This may include design features that make it more convenient for people with disabilities to use the web.
Inclusion: The practice of making products and services available to and usable by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. This concept disregards culture, age, economics, computer literacy, and access to conductivity.
While all three are valuable to an accessible world wide web, it is accessibility that is the cusp of it all. Without accessibility, there can be no usability or inclusion.
What Are Defining Features Of An Accessible Website?
What are some common accessibility barriers on the web?
There are many accessibility barriers that can make it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to use the web. Some of the most common accessibility barriers include:
- Inaccessible or missing alt text
- Lack of keyboard accessibility
- Poor color contrast
- Unclear or confusing language
- Missing captions or transcripts
There are many features that can make a website more accessible. However, there are a few key features that are essential for all websites.
Some of the most important features of an accessible website include:
- Text that can be resized without losing content or functionality
- Webpages that can be navigated using keyboard shortcuts
- Appropriate color contrast between text and background
- Descriptive alt text for images
- Clear and concise language
- Closed captioning for videos
- Transcripts for audio content
These are just a few of the most important features of an accessible website. However, there are many more that can be added to create an even more inclusive experience.
What Is Accessibility Compliance?
Accessibility compliance is the process of making sure that a website or application meets all accessibility standards and guidelines. This includes ensuring that the site is usable by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.
There are many different accessibility standards and guidelines that can be followed. However, the most common is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
What is WCAG?
WCAG is an international standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The current version, WCAG 2.0, was published in December 2008 and updated in December 2011. It consists of 12 guidelines organized into 4 principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These guidelines aim to make the web more accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are organized into four levels: A, AA, and AAA.
Level A is the lowest level of compliance and includes the bare minimum of accessibility features. Level AAA is the highest level of compliance and includes all possible accessibility features.
There are four main guiding principles of accessibility upon which WCAG has been built:
- A website’s navigation may have several links that are displayed in a different order from page to page. if the user has to learn the separate navigations for every page, that does not make sense.
- Another possible problem might be that the website’s background is blue and the text is white, which makes it difficult for people with color blindness to see the text.
- Text alternatives: provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be converted into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, or synthesized speech.
- Time-based media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
- Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
- Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
- If a website has a link that says “click here,” but does not say where it will take the user, then it is not operable. If a person using a screen reader clicks on the link, the screen reader will just say “click here.” The user has no way of knowing where the link will take them.
- Another possible problem might be that the website has a drop-down menu, but it can only be opened by hovering over it with a mouse. This is not operable for people who are using a keyboard or screen reader.
- Keyboard accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Enough time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
- Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, discover content, and finalize where they are.
- Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
- If a website has a lot of technical jargon, it is not understandable. Another possible problem might be that the website uses abbreviations or acronyms without defining them.
- Another possible problem might be that the website has a lot of information on one page and it is not organized logically.
- Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
- Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Input assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- If a website is not accessible to all technologies, it is not robust. For example, if a website is only accessible to people using Internet Explorer, it is not robust.
- Another possible problem is using technologies that are not yet standard. For example, if a website uses HTML5 and CSS3, but does not provide fallbacks for older browsers, it is not robust.
Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
What Are The Benefits Of WCAG Compliance?
There are many benefits of WCAG compliance. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Increased accessibility for people with disabilities
- Improved search engine optimization (SEO)
- Greater compliance with government regulations
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Enhanced brand reputation and credibility
- Increased website traffic and conversions
By ensuring that your website is accessible to as many people as possible, you can tap into new markets and expand your reach. WCAG compliance can also help you avoid potential legal action and costly penalties.
These are just a few of the many benefits of WCAG compliance. However, the most important benefit is that it can help make the web more accessible for everyone.
Accessible Design Vs Inclusive Design
Accessible design is the proactive design of products, devices, services, or environments to be usable by people with disabilities.
Inclusive design is an approach to design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference. Inclusive design is sometimes also referred to as universal design, human-centered design, or user-centered design.
There are many similarities between accessible design and inclusive design. Both approaches aim to make products, devices, services, or environments more usable by a wider range of people. And both approaches consider the needs of users with disabilities.
It is important to note that accessibility is just one aspect of inclusion. In order to be truly inclusive, designers must also consider other forms of human diversity such as language, culture, gender, and age. While accessible design is about making products and services usable by people with disabilities, inclusive design is about making products and services usable by everyone.
When it comes to web design, WCAG compliance is the gold standard for accessible design. However, WCAG compliance is not always enough to ensure that a website is inclusive. In order to create an inclusive website, designers must go beyond WCAG compliance and consider other factors such as language, culture, and age.
Where do they meet?
While both these tools have their different standpoints, they empower designers to create a wide spectrum of digital products.
Accessible and inclusive designs work together to lower barriers that exclude people from using digital products effectively. These barriers arise during the design process when designers create products for individuals like themselves. Inclusive design allows designers to empathize with diverse groups of people.
A way that both these design processes can improve digital products is by following the design process. The design process helps to ensure that digital products are accessible and inclusive for everyone.
- Define: Define the goals, users, and tasks for the product.
- Research: Conduct user research to understand the needs of your users and how your users overcome similar real-world problems.
- Ideate: Generate ideas for the product.
- Prototype: Create prototypes of the product based on your findings and inferences.
- Test: Test the product with target users.
- Iterate: Iterate on the design based on feedback.
- Launch: Launch the product.
By following the design process, designers can create digital products that are accessible and inclusive for everyone
Accessible Web Design Tools
For designers, the primary toolset focuses on color contrast to ensure designs work for people with low vision and color blindness. A good example is NoCoffee Chrome Extension that simulates how pages appear to people with various vision issues.
Some other tools that designers are using include:
- Site improvement tools like Google’s Lighthouse that suggest improvements to make sites more mobile friendly and perform better in search.
- Accessibility checkers like axe that can be used to test designs for common accessibility issues.
- Pattern libraries like Inclusive Components provide best practices for common design patterns.
An example of a website with good accessibility compliances in web design includes
- The BBC website. The BBC has made their website compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA. In addition to this, they have also made their website accessible for people with disabilities such as blindness and low vision. The BBC has used color contrast to make sure that their website can be easily viewed by people with low vision. They have also used screen reader simulation tools to make sure that their website can be easily accessed by people who are blind.
- Another example of a website with good accessibility compliances in web design is the Obama Foundation website. The Obama Foundation has made their website compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA. In addition to this, they have also made their website accessible for people with disabilities such as blindness and low vision. The Obama Foundation has used color contrast to make sure that their website can be easily viewed by people with low vision. They have also used screen reader simulation tools to make sure that their website can be easily accessed by people who are blind.
Tips To Make Your Website More Accessible
Here are some tips to make your website more accessible according to the WACG guidelines:
A good contrast ratio:
The best example is that of a movie with subtitles. The text often appears in white on a dark background. If the background turns bright, the text becomes unreadable and the audience is left not knowing the dialogue. According to WACG 2.0, the requisite contrast ratio is 4.5:1. In other words, for every 4.5 pixels of white (or any light color), there should be 1 pixel of black (or any dark color).
This can be easily checked using the Color Contrast Analyzer tool.
Make use of alternative text:
If an image is used on a website, make sure to provide an alternative text for the image. This is important for people who are blind and use screen readers to browse the internet. The alternative text should be short and descriptive. It should describe the function of the image on the website.
Do not use color as the sole means of conveying information:
Some people are colorblind and cannot perceive colors the way most people do. Do not use color as the only means of conveying information. For example, do not use red to indicate error and green to indicate success. Use other cues such as icons or text to convey information.
Use simple and clear language with simple headings and spacing:
Use simple and clear language on your website. Do not use jargon or technical terms that might not be familiar to everyone. Use concise sentences. This will aid people who have ADHD who may experience difficulty navigating content that is not presented clearly. Using simple headings and spacing to break up text helps people with dyslexia who often have difficulty reading texts that are presented in large blocks.
It is important to have a consistent navigation. People with disabilities often have difficulty remembering where they are on a website and how to get back to the homepage. Having a consistent navigation will help people with disabilities to easily find their way around your website.
Accessibility compliance in web design is important to consider if you want to make your website accessible for people with disabilities. This will enable a more holistic information disbursal and user experience. By following the tips above, you can make your website more accessible and compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
At Pixelstreet, we are a web development company that completely agrees with these guidelines and our designers work extremely and conscientiously to ensure that we make our website designs more accessible. For more information, kindly contact us directly.