Accessibility Compliant Websites: Why is this Important?
Accessibility compliant websites are sites that are made disability-friendly or in other words, easy to use for users with disabilities, including those facing motor difficulties and sight impairments.
For a website to be accessibility compliant, it needs to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are internationally recognized standards produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines breakdown how to solve many of the problems users with disabilities face when browsing the web. The guideline’s main priority is to grant users the most basic level of web accessibility, followed by addressing the most significant barriers for users with disabilities, which regretfully still exist on many websites.
Continually, we will break down the WCAG 2.1 standards into the four main principles of accessible technology, which are Perceivable. Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR).
A perceivable website makes it easy for users to identify the site’s content by using the senses. For example, for some users, this might mean being able to perceive the site solely visually, while others suffering from sight impairment, might need the accessibility to perceive the site via sound or touch. In other words, all the information and components of a website need to be perceivable to all the senses. This can be achieved by:
- Providing text alternatives for non-text content.
- Providing captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
- Creating content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
An operable website means that all users can successfully operate the site. It seems redundant, but it is not always easy not to miss little details here and there. As a web developer, it is important to put yourself in the shoes of anyone who might want to visit your site. To ensure all users can navigate through your pages, click on the buttons, and interact with any other necessary elements for a full experience. Sometimes it is as simple as ensuring your website has good keyboard-only navigation, which is especially important for users that have motor difficulties and have a hard time navigating with a computer mouse. This can be achieved by:
- Making all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Making it easy to use inputs other than keyboard.
- Giving users enough time to read and use content (not having a timer to log-out a user).
Aside from making the website perceivable and operable, users must also be able to understand the information provided and the operation of the user interface. This can be achieved by:
- Making text readable and understandable.
- Ensuring content in all of the website pages is presented in a consistent manner so that users don’t have to relearn basic navigation for each of the site’s pages.
- Indicating the language used so that assistive technologies can present the text correctly.
- Making contact or registration forms accessible by ensuring they inform the user if there is an input error so that all users can understand why a form can’t be submitted.
A robust website is standards-compliant, and it’s designed to function reliably on all technologies, including assistive technologies. Furthermore, users should be able to choose which technology they use to interact with the website. For example, if a site requires a specific version of a browser to function, yet a user doesn’t have or can’t use that browser, then the website is no longer accessible. This can be achieved by:
- Maximizing compatibility with current and future user tools.
But Do I Really Need This?
The four POUR principles ( Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust) are designed to describe functional web accessibility. By ensuring you are compliant with these, you will also successfully meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and make your website useful to all of your users.
Currently, any business considered a public accommodation should have a WCAG compliant website. This is especially true for any B2C business. Our team of expert web developers at Figment Design are trained to meet all of these guidelines and guarantee an accessible compliant website for all of our clients.