Website Accessibility ensures visitors can access the information they require. Especially when the internet is no longer just for tech geeks; people use the internet for multiple reasons ranging from accessing information to entertainment to communication.
With the World Bank stating that more than 1 billion or 15% of the world’s population has some disability, the need is even more. The common types of disabilities include physical, sensory, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities.
It’s because of these disabilities that they find barriers in websites and apps that hamper them from using the websites. Inaccessible websites are not just inconvenient to them; you also lose out on their business because of it.
If you have an inaccessible website but don’t know how to increase its accessibility, we at ADA Site Compliance can help with assistive technology. We are the #1 source for all ADA website compliance issues, with a team of accessibility experts who know all the legal and regulatory requirements for website compliance.
What are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a set of international standards providing specific recommendations for website accessibility. As the ADA doesn’t define web accessibility and its scope, web designers and developers referred to the WCAG to improve web page accessibility.
Web accessibility standards for the UX design stage
Websites undoubtedly should be attractive with colorful and beautiful graphics, fonts, and other visual elements. However, that’s not the only criterion to consider. It’s also necessary that websites be accessible, which is possible through the following steps:
ADA-compliant websites should be accessible not only using a mouse but also through the keyword. So the website navigations should be logical and intuitive, following a visual flow like right to left or top to bottom. The “Enable keyboard navigation” intention is to make it easier for users using keyboards to navigate the web page’s buttons, links, and form controls.
All website text should be clear and easy to read. With so many users having visual impairments like color blindness, cataract, and near or farsightedness, text clarity should be your priority.
Do not depend on color
Color is not the only essential part of a website. There are other factors ensuring web accessibility. They include using the appropriate font size and style, while the recommended font styles are Verdana, Arial, and Times, New Roman.
Proper order content
Structure content so visitors using other assistive devices and technologies like screen readers can easily access it. It’s necessary because screen readers present content linearly or one item at a time while translating the digital text into synchronized speech.
Do not forget explanatory link text descriptions
Including text descriptions help users distinguish between links and decide if they should click them. Links redirecting users to an image should contain text alternatives describing the link’s unique function.
Follow an accessibility checklist
There are lots of accessibility checklists available online. Following them helps ensure you adhere to the WCAG while ensuring web compliance.
Have 40 x 40 pt. Clickable area for touch controls
As people with disabilities can use touch controls, ensure they have enough clickable space while creating the website design.
Accessible media content
A website’s video and images do increase its visual and audio appeal. However, they should be accessible by all visitors as the deaf can’t hear information and the blind cannot see.
Accessible web designs provide an overall better user experience
Your website should be ADA-compliant not only to provide equal access and a better user experience to people with disabilities but also for those without disabilities. It’s because sometimes accessibility features enhance the user’s experience.
For example, text alternatives help users by limiting data bandwidth, while audio transcription is a great tool for users who cannot use earphones to access audio content.
Web accessibility myths
Despite its necessity, accessibility is one of the most neglected aspects of web design. And it’s mainly because of the following myths about accessible web design and accessibility.
1. It’s ugly
Many feel that while ensuring web accessibility, you follow strict guidelines that affect the website or app’s looks and feel. Examples are using text descriptions for images. However, it’s not true because today’s technology lets you create a trendy, attractive, and web-accessible website.
2. It’s expensive and time-consuming
It is true that web compliance takes time and is an additional cost. However, not many realize that the time and money invested at the start can prove helpful in the future. For example, with a web-compliant site, there’s no worry about facing and paying for expensive lawsuits.
Besides, it takes more time to improve the site if you later learn that your website isn’t compliant. In addition to this, an accessible site also helps get better rankings, online visibility, and visitors.
3. It’s not important
Many companies and design agencies maintain that web compliance isn’t important as no one cares. They claim that their data shows that users with cognitive and learning disabilities don’t even visit their websites.
While most sites may have minimal disabled users as visitors, there are also senior users and other users having minor disabilities to take into consideration. Website owners stand to lose their business just because of an inaccessible website.
4. It’s not necessary, but an option
Many are of the impression that web compliance isn’t necessary but an option for website owners. Unfortunately, it’s false, as many countries have laws stating it’s illegal to discriminate against users with disabilities while providing services or products.
And thanks to the laws, users who cannot access content on an inaccessible website can sue for digital discrimination. With the increasing number of lawsuits filed yearly, some companies pay millions of dollars to settle.
Why you need to care about accessible websites
Three main reasons prove why web accessibility is so important.
There are multiple laws about web and accessibility issues. Websites that fail to comply with their risk face expensive lawsuits from disabled users.
Accessible websites create a positive image on reputation and an image of social responsibility and care towards all users. For example, Facebook uses artificial intelligence to provide their blind visitors with automatic alternative text using object recognition technology. With this feature, Facebook is seen as a friendly company for disabled and blind users, both offline and online.
Disabled users generally do not trust service providers due to multiple barriers and poor web accessibility. So as a solution, instead of worrying about being ignored by certain brands, users with disabilities prefers spending time with companies providing them with a better user experience.
With more than 15% of the world’s population having disabilities, website owners that do not have a compliant website risk losing their business.
Usability and accessibility training
It isn’t enough to ensure website accessibility. In addition, website designers should also test to ensure they have achieved the desired accessibility goals through usability and accessibility training.
There are two options for testing accessibility; manual or automated accessibility testing. A combination of both gives the best results.
Usability testing determines the website’s usability based on efficiency and user satisfaction. It’s generally better for businesses to outsource measuring their website’s usability and accessibility to third-party testing companies.
Inclusive vs. Accessible Design
There are two universal design philosophies capable of appealing to a large audience, and they are inclusive and accessible designs. The two philosophies are similar but with a few key differences.
The key differences between the two are:
- Inclusive designs are processed to provide a satisfying user experience to users from all backgrounds, abilities, and web experiences. Accessible designs, however, focus more on the outcomes and determine how useful the site is to users with disabilities.
- There is a list of guidelines that the accessible design adheres to make a product accessible to users with disabilities. Inclusive designs adopt design testing and a novel approach for an improved user experience.
- The inclusive design focuses on information and content and how well users understand it. The accessible design emphasizes the information architecture, presentation, and means of communication to the user.
- Inclusive designs ensure products and services are user-friendly to a wide range of users to eliminate all forms of exclusion. However, accessible designs cater to users with diverse abilities and established design rules.
The two designs also share the following similarities:
- Website inclusivity and accessibility ensure the widest range of users can use a website’s features and functionalities, regardless of its abilities and other diverse characteristics.
- Inclusive and accessible web designs comply that users with disabilities should have a similar user experience as their abled counterparts.
- Inclusive and accessible philosophies adapt to growth and technologies to make browsing the web easy and accessible by users.
How inclusive designs affect the usability
Websites and web interfaces are meant and designed to solve the users’ problems. And a website is considered to be usable if everyone can use it, and this constitutes an inclusive web design.
Creating websites that do not adhere to inclusive web design principles is counterintuitive as it defeats the purpose of ensuring maximum users access the website.
Inclusive web designs follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle because simplicity offers the greatest level of user satisfaction to all users. Consequently, a bigger audience appeals to an inclusive website, leading to better interaction and more profit for the website owner.
Here is a list of the questions our team is most frequently asked.
1. What is the relationship between web accessibility and user experience?
Web accessibility provides a better user experience to digital accessibility to not only disabled users but also to those without any disabilities or limitations.
2. Why is accessibility important for user experience?
Accessibility is important for user experience because it works on the universality of usability. It decides how well users can access a product or service. And that all users, including those with disabilities, have equal user interface experience as traditional users.
3. What is accessibility in user experience?
Accessibility determines if everyone can use a product or service, no matter how they encounter it. While accessibility laws help users with disabilities, designers should focus on incorporating accessibility and accommodating potential users in multiple contexts.
4. What is the importance of website accessibility?
Web accessibility is important because it promotes usability, thus leading to a more intuitive user experience. Besides, online content confirming accessibility requirements is generally more user-friendly.
You will by now have understood the link between website accessibility and improved user experience. However, you may not be so sure about ensuring web compliance.
This is where we at ADA Site Compliance can help. We have a team of accessibility experts thorough with the legal and regulatory requirements for website compliance.
We are the #1 source for all ADA website compliance tips and work. And our experts are always ready to clear any doubts and help create web interfaces usable by all your visitors.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.