What is web accessibility and why do we need it ?
According to Wikipedia, the term accessibility refers to “the design of products, devices, services, vehicles, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both "direct access" (i.e. unassisted) and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers)." In short, an accessible web page is a page who’s content can be consumed and interacted with by any user regardless of ability.
We need web accessibility for all because it allows people with disabilities or difficult circumstances to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools in the same way that other people do. It also creates an environment where everyone can be represented and contribute to web design and internet culture.
A fully accessible internet benefits people with physical disabilities, people with developmental and cognitive disabilities, the elderly, people with low literacy or those not fluent in the language and people facing hardware limitations (such as small screen, older computer, no audio speakers, older browser version).
Why is it so important to make the web accessible ?
There are one billion disabled people on the planet. People with disabilities are disproportionally affected by the lack of accessibility in today's digital products from both a civil rights and a technological standpoint. The internet provides independence and freedom that cannot be found in any other medium. Unaccessible websites unintentionally exclude a segment of the population who benefits the most from the internet.
Education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and many other aspects of our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on the Web and the Internet as a whole. It is critical that the Internet be accessible to everyone in order to provide people with disabilities with equal access and opportunities. People with disabilities can benefit from an accessible Web by being able to participate more fully in society.
You can help to ensure that everyone can access the internet by implementing accessibility protocols on your own website!
How to make a website more accessible ?
Having an accessible website is one of the simplest ways to do business with people with disabilities, such as those who are unable to read print material, those who are unable to visit a physical store or mall, and others. However, it's also fun to be busy with. As a result, what you do for accessibility overlaps with other best practises like mobile Web design, usability, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Another factor to consider for businesses is that in some cases, web accessibility is mandated by law.
Web accessibility rests on web developers. Making your website accessible to people with disabilities will make it accessible to everyone.
Closed Captions for Media
Captions should be included with any videos or audio elements on your website. Closed captions are beneficial not only for accessibility, but also for users who may be accessing your website from a location where they are unable to play audio, such as an office or a noisy environment.
For podcasts or other audio elements, consider providing a text transcript. The text transcript will not only help Google and other search engines index your content and improve your Google ranking, but it will also be useful for people who are unable to listen to the audio.
Including captions on your media files will make them to everyone.
Use Better Tables
Instead of making the table title bold text, you should use the caption tag to add captions to your tables to make them easier to understand for screen readers. As shown above, you should also add the "scope" element and neatly label new rows and columns in your table so that screen readers don't just rattle off a series of table cells with no context.
Anything you put on your website should be something that can be done entirely with a keyboard. If you can't use a screen reader, for example, don't animate navigation buttons as dropdown buttons.
Use of Alt-tags
The alt-tag attribute describes an image. It provides a helpful description for people using screen readers. It helps provide important information to people who cannot see images. A blind person using a website without alt-tags will miss all the info and elements a picture can bring to sighted people. For example having a image described as “Teenagers in school uniform colouring a map of the world, including compass directions, grid references, map’s key, title and scale.” gives you much more information than an image simply titled “teenagers at school”.
Use the ARIA Tag
Always Use the Title Tag
The HTML title tag is not always displayed in the webpage body by browsers, but it is useful for screen readers and tab titles. So make sure that each of your website's pages has a descriptive but brief title that explains what the page is about.
Make documents accessible:
If you offer document download on your website make sure that your document are accessible.
Accessible documents are :
Reader can quickly scan a document to find out what it contains. Need to correctly implement headings and line spacing.
Readers can use a digital device to search for words in the documents. By using CTRL+F.
Need to implement optical character recognition (OCR) and provide alt text.
So sighted and badly-sighted readers can physically read the text. Need to choose fonts carefully and check colour choices
Readers can easily understand the messages in the document. Use clear language and know audience. Make sure document is written with purpose.
In conclusion, web accessibility is important for every website as it makes using the internet easy for everyone and is amazing for SEO. Accessibility is extremely important and should be considered an integral part of website building. We have accessibility laws for building, why not do the same for websites? Don’t hesitate to do more research on the subject as there is plenty of interesting articles and websites dedicated to make accessibility more visible.