“It’s profoundly the right thing to do, because the one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?”
― Steve Krug, Author of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Digital or web accessibility refers to a website’s ability to be used or consumed by people with various disabilities or impairments such as vision, hearing, motor, mobility, or learning that may require the use of additional hardware or software.
This may be something you take for granted if you are lucky enough to not need this type of assistive technology, but roughly 20% of Americans have one of these impairments.
That’s roughly 68 million people in America alone.
It is critical that this is planned for in the way we design, build, and manage our sites.
Ignoring accessibility advisement could result in a decent chunk of your audience not being able to properly use and interact with your site.
At best this means you’ve created a poor user experience and at worst you risk alienating potential users (which could ultimately directly impact revenue by pushing customers away).
But more importantly, this is a human issue.
We need to create sites with compassion for our fellow human beings. Again, 20% of people require it. Require it. It is not a “nice to have,” it is something need in order to complete the same tasks as everyone else.
These responsibilities fall not on one person, but on everyone involved with your website creation and management.
Whether it’s the designer who depends not just on color to communicate important information, the developer who is setting proper HTML semantics so that screen readers can correctly scan the pages, or the content manager who checked that all images have correct and descriptive alt tags.
Accessibility is multi-faceted.
Some important things you should check for are:
Sufficient contrast of background and foreground colors (this tool can help). Having text that does not have enough contrast to the background color behind it can cause users with impaired vision or color blindness to have difficulty reading your site. Poorly contrast can be difficult for even people with perfect vision to read.
Forms that can be tabbed through without a mouse. This means if your forms are not properly built users who may rely on keyboards for navigating may not be able to correctly fill out your forms.
Video and audio that is easily be paused or turned off. Additional audio may interfere with users that rely on audio to feedback to receive the material of your site.
It may seem like an overwhelming task, but this infographic from the digital accessibility experts over at GET Accessible is a great resource to help you on your journey of accessibility enlightenment.