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Introduction to Web Accessibility | 2024’s Best Guide

Written By Mashia Aftab | Last Modified On April 22, 2024

If you’re a website owner, designer or developer, you’ve probably heard of web accessibility. But what is it, exactly? And why is it so important?

Whether you’re new to web accessibility or looking to improve your skills, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of web accessibility and provide practical tips and best practices for creating accessible websites.

But don’t worry: we won’t be bogging you down with technical jargon or boring lectures. We’ll use a fun and engaging tone to make this guide easy to understand and read.

Let’s dive in!

Introduction to Web Accessibility: What Is It?

Web accessibility is designing and developing websites that everyone, including people with disabilities, can use. It’s about ensuring that websites are designed inclusively so that people with disabilities can access and use them just as easily as people without disabilities.

Think about it, the internet has become an essential part of our lives, and everyone must be able to access and use it. People with disabilities often face barriers when using websites that haven’t been designed with accessibility in mind.

This can include anything from difficulty navigating a website with a screen reader to being unable to fill out a form because it’s not labeled properly.

Read More: Accessibility Design at Scale | Best Tips

Why Is Web Accessibility Important?

Web accessibility isn’t just important for people with disabilities, though. By designing websites that are accessible to everyone, you can reach a wider audience and improve your website’s usability for all users. For example, people with temporary disabilities, like a broken arm or using a mobile device in a noisy environment, can benefit from websites designed with accessibility.

So, if you’re a website owner, designer or developer, it’s crucial to prioritize web accessibility. This means following best practices like using proper heading structures, providing alternative text for images, ensuring sufficient colour contrast, and ensuring that your website is keyboard accessible.

By doing so, you can create an inclusive, user-friendly, and enjoyable website for everyone.

Read More: Emotionally Intelligent Design for Mobile UX

How To Create An Accessible Website

If you’re creating a website and want it to be accessible, here are some steps you can take:

  • Step 1: Conduct an Accessibility Audit
  • Step 2: Design and Layout
  • Step 3: Content and Multimedia
  • Step 4: Forms and Interactive Elements
  • Step 5: Testing and Quality Assurance
  • Step 6: Implementation and Maintenance

Step 1: Conduct an Accessibility Audit

The first step to creating an accessible website is to conduct an accessibility audit. This involves checking your website for common accessibility barriers, such as a lack of alternative text for images, poor colour contrast, and inaccessible navigation. There are many tools available to help you conduct an accessibility audit, including online checkers and browser extensions.

Step 2: Design and Layout

Design and layout are important considerations for accessibility. When designing your website, keep in mind that users with visual impairments may have difficulty with small text or low-contrast colors. Use headings and page structure to make it easier for users to navigate your website, and ensure that your website is keyboard accessible for users who cannot use a mouse.

Step 3: Content and Multimedia

Creating accessible content and multimedia is essential for ensuring that users with disabilities can access your website. Provide alternative text for images and multimedia, and use captions and transcripts for videos and audio content. Use clear and concise language when writing content, and avoid jargon or complex terminology.

Step 4: Forms and Interactive Elements

Forms and interactive elements should be designed with accessibility in mind. Use clear and descriptive labels for form fields, and ensure that error messages and alerts are clearly visible and understandable.

Step 5: Testing and Quality Assurance

Testing and quality assurance are critical to ensuring that your website is accessible. Conduct manual and automated tests to check for common accessibility issues, and ensure that any changes you make are thoroughly tested before deploying them to your live website.

Read More: What Is Quality Assurance(QA)? Process, Methods And Examples

Step 6: Implementation and Maintenance

Implementing accessibility changes and ongoing maintenance are crucial to ensuring that your website remains accessible over time. Train and educate content creators and developers on the importance of accessibility, and make accessibility a priority in all website updates and redesigns.

Read More: What Are The Basics Of Web Design? | Excellent Guide

Principles of Accessibility

Alright, folks: let’s talk about the four principles of web accessibility. These are the building blocks for creating websites that are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.

So, what are these four principles, you ask? Well, let me break it down for you.

Principle #1: Perceivable

This principle is all about making sure that your website’s content can be perceived by everyone, including people with visual or hearing impairments. This means using clear and descriptive text, providing video captions and transcripts, and using alternative text for images. It’s all about making sure that everyone can access and understand the content on your website.

Principle #2: Operable

This principle is all about making sure that your website is operable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. This means making sure that your website can be navigated using a keyboard, providing clear and consistent navigation, and ensuring that interactive elements like forms are easy to use. It’s all about making sure that everyone can use your website, regardless of how they interact with it.

Principle #3: Understandable

This principle is all about making sure that your website is easy to understand, even for people with cognitive or learning disabilities. This means using simple and clear language, organizing content in a logical way, and providing instructions and feedback that are easy to understand. It’s all about making sure that everyone can understand and use your website.

Principle #4: Robust

This principle is all about making sure that your website is robust enough to be used by everyone, regardless of their technology or device. This means using standard and widely-supported technologies, and ensuring that your website is compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers. It’s all about making sure that your website is future-proof and accessible to everyone, regardless of how they access it.

Accessible Websites – Example

Alright, let’s talk about some examples of accessible websites! These are websites that have taken the principles of web accessibility to heart and have created a user-friendly experience that can be enjoyed by everyone.

1) Apple

Apple is known for its sleek and stylish design, but did you know that its website is also accessible to everyone? They provide alternative text for images, use clear and descriptive language, and make sure that their website can be navigated using a keyboard. Plus, they even have a section on their website dedicated to accessibility, where they provide resources and information for users with disabilities.

Read More: Basics of iOS App Design | Tips and Best Practices

2) BBC

The BBC is a great example of a website that is both visually appealing and accessible to everyone. They use clear and concise language, provide captions and transcripts for videos, and ensure that their website can be navigated using a keyboard. Plus, they even have an accessibility settings panel, where users can customize the font size and color contrast to suit their needs.

3) Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace that is dedicated to handmade and vintage goods. But did you know that their website is also accessible to everyone? They use alternative text for images, provide clear and consistent navigation, and make sure that their website is compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers. Plus, they even have an accessibility statement, where they outline their commitment to making their website accessible to everyone.

4) Gov.uk

Gov.uk is the official website of the UK government, and they take web accessibility seriously. They use simple and clear language, provide captions and transcripts for videos, and make sure that their website is easy to navigate using a keyboard. Plus, they even have an accessibility team, who work to ensure that their website meets the needs of all users.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, web accessibility is not just a trend or buzzword; it’s a vital aspect of modern web design. By following the four principles of web accessibility, we can create websites that are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.

It’s about creating a more inclusive web, where everyone can access the same information, services, and opportunities. It’s about recognizing and valuing the diversity of our users and designing with their needs in mind.

So let’s make web accessibility a priority in our design and development processes. Let’s challenge ourselves to create websites that are not only functional and stylish but also inclusive and accessible to everyone. Doing so can make the web a more welcoming and empowering place for all.

Thanks for reading, and let’s continue the conversation on web accessibility!

FAQs

Who benefits from web accessibility?

Web accessibility benefits a wide range of users, including people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility impairments, cognitive disabilities, and other disabilities. It also benefits older users, users with slow internet connections, and users who are accessing the web in noisy or distracting environments.

What are some common accessibility issues on websites?

Some common accessibility issues include missing or incorrect alternative text for images, poor color contrast, unclear or confusing navigation, and lack of keyboard accessibility.

Is web accessibility a legal requirement?

Yes, web accessibility is a legal requirement in many countries, including the United States and the European Union. Failure to comply with accessibility laws can result in penalties, fines, and lawsuits.

Does web accessibility have to be expensive?

No, web accessibility does not have to be expensive. Many accessibility best practices can be implemented at little or no cost.