What is web accessibility?
Website accessibility is the process of designing websites that are user-friendly for everyone. Although, the primary focus of web accessibility is designing and developing these sites for people with disabilities to use. More specifically, people should be able to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with any website they choose to explore.
Legality and web accessibility
Something that a lot of people do not think about when it comes to web accessibility is the legal side of things. More than 4,000 web accessibility lawsuits have been filed just in 2021, which I have noticed is trending a lot higher compared to previous years. The more popular web accessibility becomes, the harder it is to have non-accessible websites. It is something that businesses need to seriously consider, so they can uphold their reputations and retain their consumers.
What to look for when checking to see if your website is accessible
You may be asking what is involved in making a website accessible. Website accessibility may be a bit confusing and overwhelming when it comes to actually checking to see if a site is accessible. A poorly built website that does not stress the importance of accessibility can create barriers that exclude people from having a positive user experience. Not to worry though, here is a short list of what is involved in making a website accessible so you can get started on making sure your website is optimized for all users.
- Page titles
- Alternative text on images
- Headings (H1-H6)
- Color contrast/ratio
- Font size
- Keyboard friendly
- Proper links
Helpful tools to use when testing to see if your website is accessible
When it comes to testing your site’s accessibility, there are a ton of tools out there that you could use. I have come across 2 very helpful tools that I have personally had experience with that I would recommend to anyone who is wanting to test a site’s accessibility.
WCAG is short for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines were put into place in 1999 with the purpose of setting standards for making websites more accessible, primarily for people with disabilities, but also for all users. This set of recommended guidelines is the number one way to ensure that your site is following the proper rules and regulations when it comes to web accessibility.
WAVE is a Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool that also helps people make their websites more accessible. Although, it is primarily used to ensure that sites are user-friendly specifically for people with disabilities. Below are a few tools that are included in the WAVE Chrome extension that can help identify accessibility and WCAG errors on a site.
- Link errors
- Contrast errors
- Heading errors
- Structural errors
- Alternative text errors
- Aria labels
Why web accessibility is important
Website accessibility is essential for businesses that want to create functional, high-quality websites and web tools that are user-friendly for everyone. There are multiple benefits to having an accessible website; higher traffic, more sales, and usability for everyone. ADA-Compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) websites also lead to more visibility and higher ranks on search engine result pages (SERPs). By having an accessible website, businesses can reap the benefits, protect their reputations, gain the upper hand on competitors, and have a website that is user-friendly for everyone!
Lesley Stiefel, Web Developer