I’m sure you’ve heard the term accessibility. Do you know how it applies though in the digital realm? This article is an overview of web accessibility and understand the challenges it presents to your customers and your business.
Web accessibility standards have been formed through various global working groups. The detailed specifications can be found at www.W3C.org. I will warn you though, this site is very technical and can be easily overwhelming. If you’re looking for detailed information, contact me and I can point you in the right direction.
In addition to the W3C standards, various countries and large-scale businesses are now implementing their own standards to ensure that more than just accessibility is included in their corporate standards, such as usability, common design patterns etc.
Soon, I’ll be writing a series of articles on how to build and update your website to not only comply with various legislations, but to provide the best experience regardless of ability.
Why is it web accessibility important?
If you’re an able-bodied person, without having any disabilities, often challenges and barriers are not easily recognized in your daily life. Personally, I firmly believe that there is no reason to be limiting people based on anything, race, religion, etc. and in this case disabilities.
An inaccessible website is like a locked door to your business. For some customers, it may be a physical disability that prevents their technology from reading the webpage or zooming in to increase the text size to read.
For other customers that have ‘hidden disabilities, such as cognitive or working memory challenges etc., they may be prevented from understanding or remembering what you have on your website due to the design layout, colors etc.
These are only a few types of examples and types of disabilities. Just as we are all diverse humans, we all have a diverse set of needs.
Keeping web accessibility in mind throughout the design process
Before tackling your design process, it’s important that you’re not only designing it with a marketing lens, but also from an accessibility and usability stand point.
I’ve known many clients that have gone out to a graphic design firm and then return with a beautiful new website or application design that cannot be implemented due to the lack of knowledge on the designer’s part. It’s heartbreaking to tell your clients that the design they’ve spent numerous hours on and paid for, now needs to have various components or pieces redesigned as they will not work for everyone.
It’s similar to working with a marketing expert. When hiring these design and marketing experts, ensure they are educated on accessibility and how it will affect your design. There are some amazing, high skilled, people out there that can design it right the first time!
How can I make sure my website is accessible and compliant?
As noted, I’ll be adding some step-to-step guidelines on ensuring your website is accessible.
This can be, but doesn’t have to be, a daunting process. If you’re a newbie in this area, I highly suggest you seek out a consultation with someone specialized in accessibility and have them train you to design and review your site (or hire it out to them).
Stay tuned for the upcoming, detailed posts to: learn more about accessibility; how to design for accessibility; and check that your website it accessible for all.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about web accessibility or how it applies to your business website.