What is Website Accessibility and Why Does it Matter?
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa
Originally Posted On: https://biz.builders/websiteaccessibility/websiteaccessibilitymatters/
ONLINE ACCESSIBILITY APPLIES TO ALL WEBSITES
Web accessibility refers to websites, online technology, online tools, online products, and online services – created, designed, developed, and managed to allow for individuals to use them. By providing reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, this allows for the ability to understand and navigate the internet. This applies across devices and third-party affiliates. Online Accessibility is now standard for any online property owned and operated by a business – adding more complexity to the changing digital landscape for business owners.
The most common website accessibility barriers may require text resizing, compliance with screen reader technology or the use of graphics. As well as closed captioning, as over 10% of American adults are visually impaired, and over 15% of the population reports loss of hearing—over 55 million people in the United States report living with a disability, according to the Census Bureau. According to a study of digital usage patterns (Pew Research Center 2016), Americans with a disability are 3x less likely to go online because of some factoring limiting their ability to do so. A range of cognitive impairments, including dyslexia, processing disorders, as well as color blindness and motor challenges, may also limit someone’s ability to navigate the web properly. Users may find it difficult to distinguish between text and background color, navigation links, and small text may be challenging to use, and some may not be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
Accommodations for users with disabilities include reliance on braille screen readers, text to speech screen reader technology, screen magnifier software, keyboard assistance for ease and accuracy, as well as subtitles or sign language video conversion for deaf users.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of testing criteria to help guide website owners in creating a website that is more accessible to those with disabilities. The number of website accessibility lawsuits is increasing, and all sites are at risk of being sued if they do not demonstrate they are accessible to people with disabilities.
Preparing for Online Compliance can mitigate risk. From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, WCAG 2.0 guidelines will continue to be a mandate for any business operating with an online presence. Proving that a business continues to comply with the standard is critical in avoiding potential lawsuits. This does not guarantee protection but supports the claim of an Online Compliance Policy and Strategy. One hundred percent accessible website is a rare thing on the internet.
The web continues to mature, and sites continue to evolve. As a business grows, an Online Compliance Policy and Strategy follows. Online Accessibility is a complicated endeavor, and expertise to support business challenges is available.