Website Accessibility Standards: Learn How to Implement Them
Following the website accessibility standards is a must for anyone with a website. It's a way to guarantee equal access for everyone, including people with disabilities. Imagine a public park, it has to be adapted so everyone in a wheelchair can enjoy the place, for example.
The internet is also a public space where disabilities shouldn't prevent anyone from exploring the content available. That's why some details need to be observed when building a website.
But what makes a web page accessible? You may ask. It's possible to implement small changes in the design and other elements to do that.
Website accessibility standards are a set of practices created to enable people with different disabilities to access content online. When you develop pages that don't follow accessibility best practices, many individuals are denied equal access to information.
People with vision impairment can use screen reader apps to browse through the internet, while if someone has hearing impairment they can use captions to watch videos. Voice recognition software helps those with paralysis.
However, those apps won't be useful if your website doesn't comply with the accessibility standards. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was created to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, also includes making the web accessible for everyone.
Website accessibility is extremely important to guarantee equal rights for everyone. Nowadays, many routine activities are done online. For example, schedule a doctor's appointment, make a purchase, and talk with friends and co-workers.
Everyone, with no exception, has the legal right to access both physical and digital spaces, which is a principle assured by the law of the United States, and many other countries.
According to the World Health of Organization, there are around 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world in 2023. Each one of them should be able to find the web as a space of inclusion.
Another reason to follow the website accessibility standards is the fact Google's algorithms consider accessibility as a factor in ranking pages. You enhance your pages SEO and increase the chances of having them on the first search result pages (SERPs).
As a consequence, it's likely to grow your organic traffic and conquer more visibility. When it comes to online stores, you may reach a bigger audience, and sell more, improving your revenue.
To understand how to implement website accessibility standards, it's important to know its four principles. Mainly to comprehend how some aspects may prevent people from having full access to your pages.
The information and interface presented must be perceived by all users. This means providing text alternatives for non-text elements, adding captions for multimedia content, and creating content that can be presented by assistive technology without losing its meaning. It should be easy for users to see and hear the content.
The functionalities of an interface must be accessible to all users. It must be easy to navigate, and it shouldn't contain any image or animation effect that causes seizures. The user must have enough time to read and follow the actions suggested.
The information must be understandable as well. This includes using a design that facilitates reading the information, structuring the text coherently, and creating an organized layout
It's essential that the content can be correctly interpreted by assistive technologies. You should check the compatibility with current tools and update the content when new accessibility tools are created.
If you want to make sure your website complies with all the website accessibility standards, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will help you with that. The document explains in detail what an accessible website must contain considering the 4 pillars above.
Every time you include an image on a page, use the alt text functionality to make the content more accessible. You will describe the image in detail, so people who use screen readers will know what the image is about, which facilitates the full comprehension of the content.
If you publish a podcast or a song, include its transcriptions as well. This way, users with hearing impairments can enjoy your content without any problem.
When it comes to videos, it's fundamental to insert subtitles. You can find automatic subtitle generators, a type of software that will generate the captions and synchronize them without you having to do anything.
Another option, though, is to use video editor software, write the captions and synchronize them. The important thing is the result, a video that's accessible for everyone. Besides, not only people with hearing impairments will enjoy this, many users like to watch videos on mute on their smartphones, for instance.
The contrast between the background and the text is fundamental to allow people to read your content easily. When the interface has a low contrast, such as a light green background and white text, it becomes difficult to identify the letters, even for people who don't have any visual impairment.
It's advisable to create a high contrast between the text and the background, for example, a white background used with black letters. The text stands out and drives the readers' attention too.
Some users browse through the internet using only the keyboard and not the mouse. Therefore, you should make sure all functionalities on your website are accessible via keyboard shortcuts.
Flashing images and videos with strong lights that blink more than 3 times in a second may trigger seizures. Try to avoid adding this type of content to your website. If you use this type of image or video insert a warning before it.
It must be easy to navigate through your pages and find the information a person is looking for. To do that, you need to create a layout where the content is placed hierarchically. The most important information must be highlighted, such as the call to action buttons.
Divide the text into subtitles, and paragraphs. Put words with links in different colors, and choose font typos that are easy to understand.
When you comply with the website accessibility standards not only you are collaborating with a more inclusive digital space, but you also enhance user experience and increase the chances of ranking better at Google. You may grow your traffic organically with that, and improve your brand's image by showing accessibility concerns.
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