It’s easy to think about accessibility in our physical surroundings: The sight of a wheelchair ramp, or a sign in Braille, is both common and easily understood. But there’s another world of accessibility for people with disabilities, and this one is online.
Have you ever considered how some disabilities may make your website – and the services it offers – difficult to use? Some web designs can’t be accessed by those who are blind, or those who cannot use a mouse, or those who can’t hear audio, etc. Not only does this cut out a potential portion of customers and audiences, but it could also create tricky legal issues for organizations. Let’s take a closer look at accessibility in web design.
What Does Accessibility in Web Design Look Like?
There’s no single type of online accessibility that works for all people with disabilities. Instead, websites need to be designed with a variety of different features for different types of accessibility, as well as compatibility with important types of assistive technology. Here are a few examples of these kinds of features:
- Images that use clear alt tag descriptions so that screen readers can read out what the image is
- Website navigation that’s easy to use with a keyboard and doesn’t force users to have a mouse or touchscreen to get where they want
- Videos that use captions so those who can’t hear (or who have the volume muted) can still understand what’s being said
- Clear contrast between text and background colors so that all text can be easily read
- Fonts and phrasing that are easy to understand for everyone, including those who may have learning or reading disorders
Accessibility standards are typically decided by the worldwide WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: We have a more in-depth guide discussing those here.
Why is it Important to Make Websites Accessible?
Customers with disabilities will appreciate websites that they can easily use, which can create more business for your site and improve traffic numbers. Keep in mind, an accessible website is better for all users: Accessibility makes menus easier to understand, text easier to read, and forms easier to fill out.
But there’s another consideration when it comes to accessibility: Compliance. State and federal laws may require certain levels of accessibility for different kinds of sites. Recent clarification from the Department of Justice also asserts that the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) also applies to business websites. Think about it like this: Just like brick-and-mortar locations are required to have ramps and bathroom designs that make their establishments accessible, businesses are now required to do the same for their websites.
It’s not just fines that organizations may risk, either. The number of lawsuits over website accessibility have quickly risen in the past several years, as individuals with disabilities draw attention to websites that they cannot use effectively. Being the target of a website lawsuit creates additional costs and hassle.
How is a Website Updated for Accessibility?
There are many ways to make changes, depending on how a website is coded. Sometimes it’s as simple as using tools to add alt tags to images and captions to videos. Sometimes it’s much more complex, like choosing a new color scheme for the site or creating the right HTML5 tags for web forms so all users know how to fill them out.
Find Out How Accessible Your Website Is with Blue Atlas
The best way to tackle accessible web design is to begin with an audit of your current website. Blue Atlas Marketing has a free auditing option you can use to get an idea of where your website stands. After that, we can help you create a strategy to implement accessibility in a way that works best for your organization.