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Website Accessibility for All – What You Need to Know

Most businesses know about the importance of having a responsive website design, one that displays correctly and is easily viewed whether being accessed from a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device. What might be less well-known is the importance of following specific website accessibility guidelines so that as wide an audience as possible may experience it, which is especially important for ensuring easy access for people with disabilities.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the web founded and led by Tim Berners-Lee) first created some Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WACG) back in 1997 to help web developers create highly accessible sites. Since then, as technology and design has changed the way we present information on websites, these guidelines have been revisited and revised, yet the four guiding principles remain the same. Those four principles advise that website content should be:

  1. Perceivable – “Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses).”
  2. Operable – “User interface components and navigation must be operable.” Or, in other words, the interface should be as intuitive as possible.
  3. Understandable – Quite simply, “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”
  4. Robust – “Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.” Those technologies might include braille interface technology and screen readers.

It’s worth highlighting these guidelines for several reasons. First, the unstoppable shift to mobile. As we wrote about recently, time spent on mobile now surpasses that spent on desktops or laptops so creating content that is clearly structured and easy to digest even after a quick scan is key. Further, there has been a large increase in visual content online and with research showing how powerful it can be in the purchase flow (according to this article from Inc.com, people are 85 percent more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video), it’s important for closed captioning and transcripts be available for all video.

While, somewhat ironically, the WACG website itself isn’t the most user-friendly of sites to visit, it is full of sound advice which thankfully has been put into more easily-digestible formats both here and here. Sense-checking your website’s presentation and capabilities against the checklist is a very worthwhile exercise that might unearth previously unnoticed issues and ultimately make for stronger content.

If you’d like our input in reviewing your site, as ever, please get in touch.




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