A Beginner’s Guide to Website Accessibility
Everything You Need to Know About Web Accessibility
You’re opening a new storefront, but real estate space is extremely limited.
You eventually manage to find an affordable location, but there’s one caveat: the front door to your new shop can only be reached after surmounting a 5-foot wall. Because of this physical barrier to entry, your business, in this scenario, would only be reachable by a few specific demographics: high jumpers, tall people, and determined athletes.
Most business owners probably don’t want to open a storefront in a location that only basketball players can access. There are a couple of band-aid solutions that come to mind: putting out a ladder, dangling a rope, or constructing a staircase. But still, ascending a rope or ladder is physically demanding and would deter many potential customers from entering your shop.
In this case, there’s a clear, easy, and budget-friendly solution: building a ramp.
Building the Ramp: Why Your Business Should Care About Website Accessibility
Website accessibility refers to the practice of creating websites that are usable by everyone, including those with disabilities, impairments, and limitations. This process involves following certain design principles which ensure that people who experience these limitations have the same or a similar experience as those who do not.
By prioritizing web accessibility, you make your website — and its content — easier to use and understand for all visitors, especially those affected by:
- Low vision
- Learning disabilities
- Cognitive disabilities
- Hearing loss
- Speech disabilities
- Or physical disabilities
Think of website accessibility like building the ramp for your digital space. Even visitors who wouldn’t necessarily need the ramp still benefit from its existence — it enhances the user experience (often called UX) for all!
Plus, you foster brand loyalty for your product or service by demonstrating to your visitors, leads, and customers that you care about their experience in your space.
Accessibility is Legally Required!
If you think your business might be too small to worry about accessibility, think again!
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is in place to protect people with disabilities from facing discrimination when accessing businesses and utilizing public spaces. Since the Internet is considered public accommodation, every business operating online is under obligation to ensure that it is ADA-compliant. Even small business owners are required to maintain ADA-compliant websites (in addition to their physical spaces).
Accessibility is imperative, as having an inaccessible website can put you and your company at risk of being sued for non-compliance with these federal regulations.
In addition to existing ADA regulations, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline current best practices in web accessibility. The 4 main principles of web accessibility are as follows:
- Is your website perceivable? Is your content easy to see and hear? Using colors with high contrast will allow those with color blindness or with screen readers to better read and understand any visual information you want to convey.
- Is your website operable? Does your website include clear page titles, meaningful links, a keyboard focus indicator, and proper section headings?
- Is your website understandable? Have you structured your pages and site logically? Are your navigation links easy to find and follow? This includes placing navigation above the fold, most commonly in the header (and footer) of the page.
- Is your website robust? Assistive technologies often make use of a web page’s HTML file in order to translate its contents into a different format. For this reason, your pages’ HTML code should be well-written.
The Case Against Accessibility Plugins and Widgets
Every year, more and more website plugins and overlays are released, claiming to “meet all Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” with “zero effort” on your part. The words “effortless” and “zero effort” should read as massive red flags!
Overlays are a broad term for technologies that aim to improve the overall accessibility of a website. They apply third-party source code to make improvements to the front-end code of the website. However, most overlays only address about 30% of WCAG issues. That means that most people who use assistive tools (such as screen readers) do not benefit.
These services claim that adding a single line of code to your website will resolve all accessibility issues, and while an overlay may improve compliance with a handful of WCAG standards, full compliance cannot be achieved through an overlay alone.
We believe in making the Internet a more equitable space for all. Whenever you order a website from Anntoine Marketing + Design, our dedicated web developers and designers work tirelessly to craft platforms that meet all accessibility standards and guidelines.
Schedule a meeting with us today to find out how you can bring your brand’s website to the next level.