The internet is probably one of the coolest inventions in the last century, bringing quite literally the entire world together in one place. However, with a reputation of being “for all”, online spaces have to make sure they are accessible to all – and that’s not always the case. According to reports, over 90% of the top websites had web accessibility issues right on their home pages.
Web accessibility is the practice of making websites useable for everyone, including people who live with disabilities. It’s not only important, but it’s the law; well, at least according to Google. Web accessibility, or “universal design,” is the practice of making your digital content usable for a broad range of people.
Who Needs Web Accessibility?
The short answer is – everyone. Web accessibility is just as important as having sidewalks on a major road, or automatic doors with wheelchair users. There are hundreds of different disabilities that can impact a person’s ability to see, hear, move, or interact the way that the average person would.
Even those who may not have disabilities have preferences. Think about when you watch a movie – do you use subtitles? Although you may be able to hear just find, some people have preferences to have the subtitles up on screen to make the experience easier to digest. The same goes for navigating websites. Making sure that every user is comfortable with their experience can give your brand a big boost and encourage potential customers to continue interacting with your site.
Expand Your Audience
It’s easy to think that web accessibility is only for blind, deaf, and mobility-impaired users. But take a look at the numbers — 1 billion disabled people are online right now. So let’s make sure their experience is as seamless as possible.
There are millions of web users who are deaf or blind, and they need to be able to access your website, but that’s not the only example. Some users can only navigate with a keyboard or a mouse while some can use both. Some are visually impaired, making it hard to read smaller fonts or intricate images. Because of this, accessible websites should focus on four major principles: understandable, perceivable, operable, and robust. By making sure your site is easily navigated by everyone, it can expand your audience by millions of users.
Better For All Users, Not Just Disabled
When your web content is easy to perceive, understand, and operate, every user benefits. Here are a few examples that you can incorporate into your design:
- Closed captions can accommodate people with hearing disabilities. Video content is on the rise. Because of that, many users find the addition of subtitles makes it easier to digest that content. In a Facebook study, adding closed captions to a video can increase views by up to %12.
- Color contrast ratios ensure that text is easy to read for people with vision disabilities. Contrast is a frequently overlooked part of web design. It affects how easily users can perceive and recognize your website’s content. Contrast is important for all screenreaders, and also benefits those who have low vision or colorblindness.
- User authentication processes can help with mobility or memory impairments. Create an account to log in more quickly and easily. This will improve efficiency in your workflow, help you save time and money, reduce the need for constant password resets, and simplify the process for users creating an account with your website.
- Short and clear content is easier to understand for people with learning disabilities. Clearer content can not only help people understand your brand quicker and easier but can also help people who have issues reading or comprehending more complex content.
This may be a surprising one, but more work into making your website accessible can actually save you money. Get this one thing right, and you’ll make all the other things much easier. Accessible websites tend to feature cleaner code, which means faster load times, fewer errors, and improved search engine positioning. That means when you’re ready to add features, refresh content, or redesign your site…you might end up paying less for development and maintenance than if you hadn’t considered accessibility.
There are many benefits to starting an accessibility initiative. The support for it can be so strong that sometimes the investment pays off almost immediately. But like any good project, it requires consistency and an ongoing commitment from every member of your team.
It’s Illegal Not To
You could implement accessibility compliance to avoid legal consequences, but that’s not the best reason. The bottom line is: that it’s the right thing to do, and your business will benefit as a result. However, here are a few more legal reasons why web accessibility is mandatory:
- The United States Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The European Union Web Accessibility Directive and European Accessibility Act (EAA)
- Canada’s Human Rights Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
In the United States, this is even broken down to specific states. A notable example is the California Assembly Bill No. 434 (AB 434) or the Colorado House Bill (HB) 21-1110. Not all accessibility laws require web accessibility conformance, however, in the U.S., A/AA guidelines are frequently cited in legal arguments and court opinions.
Web Accessibility and Design at Three Ring Focus
Designing a website can be a long process, but we’re pretty good at it. Our designers are equipped with all the knowledge to make sure your new site is accessible to anyone who needs it. From the blind or impaired to simple colorblindness. There are so many different types of people out there – make sure you can get to all of them.
Three Ring Focus has been helping clients of all sizes and industries in creating new sites with the proper web accessibility. Whether you’re just starting out on your marketing venture, or are looking to expand your already-successful business, we’ve got you covered. We’re the best of both worlds! Three Ring Focus is here to help you craft your next high-quality website, social marketing, or SEO strategy. Check out of some the work we’ve done for a little sneak peek. Don’t miss out on the benefits of having an expertly crafted website.