Accessibility: A Step in the Right Direction
Did you know that 98 out of 100 websites present accessibility violations? On a brighter note: the World Wide Web was meant to be a universal medium. Tim Berners-Lee – its inventor – is famously quoted for stating: “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
It’s time to admit that, at least for now, we’ve failed to deliver on that promise. The truth is that accessibility has yet to reach the mainstream of corporate and community consciousness.
Why are most websites left to be inaccessible?
Consulting any of the 98 website owners from the sample above on this question will likely lead to one or some of these most common myths about web accessibility being recounted:
- Accessible websites only benefit a small minority of people
- Accessibility is just for blind or partially-sighted users
- Accessible websites are ugly and boring
- My users don’t have issues with accessing my website
- Making my website accessible doesn’t bring any additional benefits in other areas
These myths have been debunked many a time! Worldwide, 1 billion people have disabilities – some of them invisible, not immediately apparent – and on top of that, there are temporary (such as an arm injury or cataract) and situational disabilities too (like holding a baby or looking at a screen in glaring sunshine) to keep in mind as well. The list goes on: web accessibility brings additional benefits and brand enhancement; there are moral reasons for having an accessible site, a clear business case for boosting accessibility, upcoming legal regulations and much more.
What does this neglect of accessibility considerations lead to? our fictional conversation partner might ask. The answer is manifold, as neglecting accessibility has wide implications:
- It leads to people not being able to access your site.
- It leads to people not being able to fill out forms, complete checkout or payment.
- It leads to limiting people’s independence.
- It leads to your message not getting through to people.
- It leads to forgoing a share of your potential user base and market share.
- And last but not least, it leads to all of your users having a less positive experience than they could be having were accessibility part of the deal.
What can you do to make your website more accessible?
Accessibility is a complex topic, but the most common accessibility barriers are actually of a fairly simple nature; low contrast, missing text alternatives, empty links and buttons and missing form labels may seem like trivial affairs, but they matter greatly for some people.
Addressing these and a few more key areas would significantly improve accessibility across the entire Web – the same goes for every individual website! This is a great point of departure in our opinion.
The ultimate goal of web accessibility is of course to enable access for as many people as possible. From a regulatory point of view, the goal is often set at complying with a defined level of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Any level of accessibility you achieve, the aim is to keep it optimally updated through continuous accessibility improvements. Web accessibility, just like website maintenance, is an ongoing process, not a milestone to reach or a checkbox to tick.
We recommend taking accessibility aspirations one step at a time and starting with the essentials: any progress is a step in the right direction.
How to get started?
Undertaking an accessibility review is the perfect place to start assessing your website’s accessibility level. Which assessment is right for you depends on what you want to test and what the end goal is.
Any way you plan to go, we are here to get you started with our range of accessibility audits. Talk to one of our accessibility experts today – we’d love to hear from you!