Why Website Accessibility Is a Must
1 in 6 people are diagnosed with a disability.
This sizable metric is why prioritizing accessibility and eliminating barriers in the digital space is a must. A key principle of this is creating a flexible site that is catered to various types of users and preferences. This ensures that all users- including those with disabilities– can navigate the internet with ease. Promoting usability allows the internet to be a space of inclusivity and can often result in a more intuitive user experience.
Web accessibility is key in SEO because it helps make content more accessible for users (and crawlers). For instance, headings are both helpful for boosting SEO as well as for those with cognitive impairments. Headings allow users to easily understand what is being discussed and outline an order of importance. In Google’s SEO Starter Guide they state, “breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.” This note makes it clear that the better these sites satisfy users, the better they will satisfy search engines as well. Another example of this intersection can be seen when alt text is put to use. Alt text is used to provide textual alternatives. These textual alternatives allow search engines and users to understand the context of an image. In turn, SEO ultimately improves because this context informs search engines and allows them to index the image properly.
Numerous disabilities can affect a user’s browsing experience. For example, users who are visually impaired may need larger text while those who are hearing impaired may require subtitles or a transcript. Some features are implemented specifically with accessibility in mind while others are standard practice. For instance, the contrast between the background and foreground is a standard practice though is a huge help for someone with a disability. Our Graphic Designer, Kendall Brandt shares more on this, “Contrast is crucial for legibility and readability for all. For example, a white background that has bright, neon yellow text on top of it is almost always going to be difficult to read for the majority of people.”
Not sure where to begin? The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a great place to start to understand the requirements in place. Brandt shares her go-to resources, “I rely on my accessibility plug-ins, there are a ton of them. If there is a question about accessibility as I’m designing I’m not afraid to just look it up.” She also notes that “doing user testing for an app or a website can be incredibly helpful because not everyone will use the app or website the same as you so it can point out any difficulties they have using it.”
In addition, The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines that every individual should be able to use all public facilities, including websites. Sites like these help standardize accessible content and aid in creating an inclusive space.
Wondering why there is an increased focus on accessibility? According to the World Health Organization, 1.3 billion people experience a significant disability. This is almost 16% of our world’s population. As this number grows, having a site that is accessible is no longer optional.
Creating an accessible site can be a big lift, but this is why agencies such as ours are always sure to follow accessibility guidelines when undertaking a web design or development project.