Web accessibility or ‘inclusivity’ is the practice of ensuring that people of all abilities can easily interact with and have equal access to your website’s content and functionality. It is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.
Every user deserves access to your digital experience. There are over 1 billion web users with disabilities on the planet, so this is a big audience which is critical to include (but often gets forgotten) when new digital experiences are being planned.
Though web accessibility has been around for over twenty years, it is only in the past five years that it has really started to influence website design.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990 + 2008) and the European Accessibility Act (2019) legislated to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability just as other civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, and religion. These laws guarantee that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods, use of essential services, and participate in state and local government programs.
From voting to parking, banking, public transport, retail… these are vital services that people with disabilities are rightly entitled to the same protections and rights as anybody else.
Accessibility standards are an extension of civil rights in a digital environment.
As a result, Google have started to pay more attention to accessibility standards.The importance of accessibility (#a11y) standards as a search ranking factor continues to grow.
In addition to the inclusivity aspect, this can be a tricky area in terms of compliance and legal exposure.
Failure of businesses or organisations to comply with new legislations can be considered discrimination. This has resulted in a spike in lawsuits in the US which have increased almost 200% year-on-year.
If you are planning a new website, I can help educate your business understand what web accessibility is, why designing for web accessibility is important, how web accessibility might impact your business, and what options can be explored to find the right level of web accessibility that is appropriate for your audiences.
Web Accessibility Audits
If you’re unsure of where to start or how accessible your website is, the first step is a web accessibility audit. This audit is a simple assessment to help you better understand any accessibility gaps that might exist and what options you have to fix them. This process can provide a quick test (and score) or a more in-depth report generated through both automated or manual testing protocols. I can provide you with documented findings & recommendations so you have clear options of the best paths forward.
Ongoing Web Accessibility Conformance Testing
When properly planned, designed, and developed, you will be able to manage the vast majority of your website content once it goes live. In doing so, you or your team could inadvertently undo some of the accessibility-compliant elements installed.
Most businesses find it valuable to have someone proactively monitoring their site’s accessibility conformance as new content is added and managed ongoing. This ensures consistent monitoring and mitigating any potential gaps that might be impacting your users or exposing you legally.
I can arrange periodic reviews of your website and content to maintain an appropriate level of conformance.