The World Wide Web and the internet got created to provide access to information for every person in the world. But while creating it, some criteria were overlooked, especially the parts about making it accessible to people with disabilities. One in every seven people in America has a disability of some kind. These disabilities limit their accessibility to most websites, and they need to use assistive technologies to access them. Yet millions of people all over the world face barriers regarding accessibility on the web.
Web Accessibility Means Equal Opportunity
Web accessibility is the process of modifying or altering the programming codes of a website so that it is easily usable to people with disabilities. The configuration needs to make the web accessible to people with the following types of disabilities:
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- People who have limited or no vision.
- People with motor disabilities.
- People who have a speech impediment.
- People with cognitive disabilities.
Therefore your business websites must be accessible to every person on the planet irrespective of their ability. If your site is not accessible, it implies that you are discriminating against users who suffer from disabilities. Making your website accessible is not only a legal requirement, but it is also immensely beneficial for the business.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was established in 1990 to end all types of discrimination against people with disabilities. The civil rights law made it mandatory for every type of business to provide equal accessibility to everyone irrespective of their ability to access or use the product or service. Even though there is no particular regulation concerning website accessibility, in most cases, federal courts rule that websites can be interpreted as public places of accommodation and should not pose barriers for users with a disability.
So if you have not made your business website accessible to users with disabilities, you can face a lawsuit for discrimination. A quick way to go about it would be to use accessiBe’s ADA Compliance platform that scans and remediates your websites code to make it accessible according to the ADA act that the DOJ has issued.
Benefits of Having Accessible Websites for Business
Apart from facing a lawsuit, there are several more benefits to optimizing your web content accessibility.
- Better user experience for many people other than those with disabilities.
- Better search engine optimization and ranking.
- Better conversion rates for your website.
- More goodwill for your business.
- Improved website performance.
- Increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a set of instructions that must get followed to optimize the content accessibility for your website. The standard set of instructions got designed in such a way that they can improve web accessibility for all users with various types of disabilities. Some people with disabilities use a mouse, while others use screen readers. The guidelines make sure that your website gets optimized for assistive technologies that they might be using.
The ADA is focused more on the accessibility of every type of business. But WCAG concentrates mostly on the optimization of websites to provide accessibility. These guidelines can be used by website designers to create or optimize websites for users with disabilities. These are twelve guidelines that have been divided into four principles.
- Non-text content, such as images or infographics must provide text options in the coding for screen readers.
- Videos and other multimedia content must provide captions.
- The content should be created in such a way so that it does not lose its meaning while presented by assistive technologies.
- The content must be easy to see or hear.
- All the functionalities of the websites must be accessible from a keyboard.
- The presentation of content should give a user enough time to read it.
- Contents that can cause seizures must not get used.
- The website should assist in navigating and searching for content.
- The text content of the website should be readable and understandable.
- The content should appear and move in the anticipated ways.
- The website should assist users in correcting and avoiding mistakes.
- The website should be optimized for maximum compatibility with present and future assistive tools.
Other with these principles and guidelines, the WCAG also provides different levels of test success for a website. Once the website gets tested for accessibility, it can fall under level A, AA, AAA in the increasing order of accessibility. That means level A has the lowest level of accessibility, while AAA has the highest level of success. Different types of businesses are expected to meet different success levels. The nature of your business will determine which level of web accessibility must be provided by your website.
Optimization of your website for accessibility is not only an ethical obligation to American society, but it also has several positive impacts on your business. So make sure that your web designers and content team adhere to these guidelines and increase your website’s accessibility on the web.