How Accessibility Can Enable Great Website Experiences

22 September 2022 • 4 min read

In the digital age, technology is changing the way we live. To build an application that can be used by everyone, a lot of effort is required. 15% of the world’s total population lives with some form of disability, according to the WHO (World Health Organization).

To create websites and applications that are accessible by one and all, including the disabled, companies should follow the most used accessibility guidelines.

Guidelines for Accessibility

WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 are referenceable technical standards. There are 12 guidelines to follow organized under four principles of Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. The three levels of testable success criteria for each of these guidelines are A (Lowest), AA, and AAA (Highest), according to WCAG 2.0. Any website that abides by these standards of accessibility will be able to bring in a smooth experience for all users, disabled or otherwise.

In the US, there is an amendment in US Law called Section 508, which applies to all government and federal websites. If the site is Section 508 compliant, it assures a high degree of accessibility for all users.

Recent concerns over website accessibility in the United States saw a rise in cases over breaches of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The most high profile case being one brought against Domino’s Pizza. You can read more in our last ADA compliance post.

What is Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing is a subset of Usability testing to check if the website is accessible by people with different disabilities. Assistive technologies such as screen readers and color contrast analyzers, analyze the content of a site before being consumed.

From a business standpoint, a website should be accessible for all people because driving away visitors with disabilities will affect sales and revenue. Some companies even hire experts for accessibility testing of the site during the development stages, but WebSell can ensure your website passes all accessibility tests during development.

Why Does a Website Need to Be Accessible?

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, all physical businesses are moving towards online business models with a digital presence. This digital transformation must be implemented while considering people with disabilities. Unique technologies like screen readers, speech recognition software, and screen magnification should be used for easy navigation for the disabled people – mainly, developing the site to render effectively through these assistive tools, just as it is without them.

Apart from verifying usability, accessibility testing also ensures that your website can be used by people with different disabilities, including visual, hearing, speech, cognitive, neurological, and physical.

How to Evaluate a Website for Accessibility?

Evaluating the accessibility of a website during the development stage helps to identify and address issues early. There are many manual and automated tools available online for assessing the usability of sites, including Accessibility Checker, Color Contrast Analyzer, etc. The guidelines of WCAG 2.1 are the base both for implementing and testing accessibility.

Performing Accessibility Testing for a Website

These are some critical tests that need to be done for comprehensive compliance:

  1. Unplugging your mouse and turning on your keyboard is one of the easiest ways to test the accessibility of the application. This is useful for people who are blind, have low vision, and motor control disabilities.
  2. By increasing the contrast mode, users with low vision and light sensitivity will be able to use the application conveniently. High contrast mode changes the colors of the background to black and foreground text to brighter colors. This can be customized per the user’s needs.
  3. By turning off the images on the page from settings, the content should clearly appear on the screen. Images shouldn’t be required to understand the content of the page. This feature helps people with cognitive disabilities.

Conducting the above tests are some easy ways of checking if your website is ADA compliant and accessible.

Benefits of Website Accessibility

  • Website traffic and sales increase as now people with disabilities can access your site.
  • You will avoid lawsuits relating to breaches of ADA brought against your business.
  • Gain recognition for your brand as one that is fully ADA compliant and supports all shoppers in an increasingly online world.
  • Customer base increases and potentially opening up a new avenue of marketing for your business.

The overall experience of the website can be improved by implementing the necessary checks at the early stages and by making accessibility testing a regular part of your website checks. Website accessibility is directly proportional to the end-user experience.

If you’d like to discuss making your website accessible and/or ADA compliant, contact us to discuss your options.

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