Web accessibility is a measure to ensure that ALL people, including those with disabilities, permanent or temporary, are able to access, understand and use your website.
Since there are many types of disabilities, there is a wealth of factors to consider when ensuring your digital work is accessible. Fortunately, there are many resources available and an international standard we can check our work against. This article will give you an overview of what it involves, and some basic factors to consider.
In Australia, and many other countries, it’s now a legal requirement 1 that your website or app meets accessibility standards. In a landmark case, a famous pizza chain was sued by a blind man after he was unable to order food on their website or mobile app, despite using screen-reading software 2. This was a huge wake-up call globally with more and more businesses realising that they must comply or risk offending their customers and coping a large fine.
Google recently released a new set of best practices, outlining that they will now be ‘optimising for a more delightful web’ 3. This means they will 'de-rank' search results for websites without good UX (user-experience) and accessibility considerations.
Intuitive, user-friendly web design and accessibility is now more important to your business than ever. 4
Did you know that disabilities are not always permanent? Some are temporary and some are situational. Some categories are:
... to name but a few.
When planning for accessibility, we also consider ‘situational’ impairments. These can be everyday factors such as a busy parent with children, English as a second language or even such stories like the famous actress who was left blind for a whole week because of shampoo! 5
With strong accessibility principles in place, your website or app can still reach the scores of people who are facing these temporary or situational issues.
Your accessibility considerations should be planned from the outset rather than an after-thought. In understanding the constraints of business, you can address some common areas at any time.
Good agencies and designers will have a wealth of knowledge, not just on accessibility but inclusion (gender, race, age, sexual orientation) too, so they should be your first port of call. But, we’re also here to help spread the good word, so if you can implement some of these tips into your website, then we’re making great progress.
Use simple colours
Ensure good colour contrast
Don’t use PDF’s on your website
Use icons and other visual aids to support text/information
Align text to the left and keep a consistent layout
Avoid complex language, abbreviations and jargon
Provide meaningful alt’ text in your image tags
Use subtitles or provide transcripts for video
Use progressive disclosure to hide complexity in text / long pages
Ensure your content is screen reader-friendly
Make clickable areas large
Give form fields space
Adopting these measures on your website and digital outputs means more people will be able to use your website, which essentially translates to a bigger market share! As we say in design, ‘solve for one, extend too many’.
Over 4 million Australians have a disability. That's 1 in 5 people.6
Remember, many of these accessibility measures also add up to a good user experience, which is vital for the success of your website. What’s good for accessibility is also good for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as search engines will often crawl your website in the same way a screen reader would for example.
With the growing importance of accessibility and the many facets to consider, it’s important you chose a strategic digital partner who fully understands it and knows how to seamlessly implement it into your website or app.
With all these considerations, it’s fair to say that ensuring all of your digital assets are accessible is, not just the law or a social obligation, it also makes great business sense!
Microsoft inclusive toolkit - https://www.microsoft.com/design/inclusive/