Web accessibility is the practice of making websites and web content usable for people with disabilities. It is a priority for governments, organisations, and businesses to make sure that their web content is accessible to people with disabilities.
The importance of web accessibility can be seen in many places. For example, the United States has laws in place to make sure that public websites are accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all public entities that provide goods or services through a website or kiosk to provide an alternate way for individuals with disabilities to access their goods or services without requiring use of the website or kiosk. We have our own legislation here in the UK which we cover later in this article.
Web accessibility training teaches employees how to create websites that are fully functional and inclusive for people with any disability.
Why website accessibility is important
You may be asking why Website Accessibility is so important.
The web is a vital part of our lives. It’s the place where we conduct business, learn about the world, and connect with people. The web is also an important tool for people with disabilities to live their lives more independently. Accessible content is content that can be understood and used by people with disabilities. There are many ways to make your website accessible, but the most important thing is to know what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place.
The key is to think of accessibility as an integral part of your content strategy and not as an afterthought. Before you start writing any content, it’s best that you think about how your message will reach everyone who might want or need it.
A website that is not accessible means that it doesn’t work well for everyone who visits it. People with disabilities are often left out or have trouble when they use inaccessible websites or apps. A person who is blind may not be able to read text on a website if the contrast isn’t high enough or if there are images in place of text content. Someone who uses a screen reader may not be able to use a website that doesn’t provide text in an alternative format such as large print. These little things are often overlooked but they make such a big difference. Not just to the user by allowing them to consume your content but also to you the content creator. You would not knowingly block 20% of your potential market from accessing your website content. However, that is exactly what you are doing if you are not following the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
Web accessibility guidelines 2.1
What are the web accessibility guidelines 2.1 and what does the AA rating actually mean?
When designing your website you need to consider a variety of factors especially the inclusivity of your design.
Inclusive design is a set of principles that are meant to make websites more accessible and usable for people with disabilities. These principles can and should be applied to all types of websites. They are especially important for government websites Schools and education and some charity sites where accessibility is mandated by law.
The Web Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WAI-ARIA) are a set of recommendations on how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement skills or limited use of hands, speech disabilities or any combination thereof. It is structured around four core principles that can be used as a guide for building accessible web applications in the modern era.
These Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards are stable and referenceable; they do not change after they are published.
The core elements underpinning the accessibility guidelines are listed in the W3.org website.
• Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
• Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
• Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
• Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
• Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
• Give users enough time to read and use the content.
• Do not use content that causes seizures or physical reactions.
• Help users navigate and find content.
• Make it easier to use inputs other than the keyboard.
• Make text readable and understandable.
• Have content appear and operate in predictable ways.
• Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
• Maximise compatibility with current and future user tools.
Web accessibility standards A, AA, AAA
Web accessibility standards range from A rating (lowest) AA and AAA (Highest)
If you’re just getting started with accessibility, WCAG 2.1 Level AA conformity is a good place to start. By following the recommendations, you can profit from better search engine optimisation, higher user retention rates, and other advantages of digital accessibility. However, you should not disregard the WCAG Level AAA recommendations. While these performance requirements are stringent, they do provide extra direction for growing your audience. Level AAA criteria, for example, require a colour contrast ratio of at least 7:1 in most cases; certain sites can easily conform to this guideline, and by doing so, they can deliver a better experience for more of their customers.
Web accessibility legislation in the UK
Whilst not as specific as the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations (2018) which covers Government departments, some charities, and schools. The Equality Act 2010, which says that UK goods and service suppliers cannot discriminate against disabled individuals, applies to private sector firms.
The easy way to web accessibility standards AA
We are passionate about web accessibility and can offer our advice to help you achieve AA standards as we have them on our website. If you would like us to audit and implement the standards for you we can facilitate that also. Please refer to our page WCAG 2.1 AA Audit Certification and Accessibility Statement Service or call us on the number below.
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Why Web Accessibility matters