Web accessibility is interwoven into elements of web design, development and user experience. Accessibility makes it easier for people with disabilities to use and navigate digital assets like websites, mobile apps, and self-service kiosks, and it expands the number of people that can interact with it and the organization it represents.
As we dive into the importance of digital accessibility, it helps to define what accessibility means and how it applies to websites and digital assets. In this post, we’ll cover:
- What is digital/web accessibility?
- Why is web accessibility important?
- How can your company move toward a more accessible online presence?
Web Accessibility Explained
Web accessibility ensures that websites, SaaS applications and other digital tools can be used by people with disabilities. If a product or tool is usable and accessible, it means that it has been designed and built so that people with disabilities can easily navigate and interact with it. It includes a range of disabilities, specifically those that would affect access to the web, including:
The experience of visiting and navigating a website should be comparable for all users. People with disabilities often use assistive technologies like screen readers and keyboard navigationor methods to have equal access to web properties.
Want to know more about web accessibility? Read our post, “What Is Web Accessibility?”
3 Reasons Why Web Accessibility Is Important
The internet has created a world of possibilities for anyone with a connection. It lets us learn about new things, buy products that may have been previously unavailable, and chat with people regardless of where they live.
Why is web accessibility important? Because making the web accessible gives everyone equal access to these possibilities and helps people with disabilities participate in society more fully.
Beyond the cultural influence of web accessibility, it carries importance for other reasons as well. Here are three reasons why:
Web Accessibility is Required By Law
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 sought to provide people with disabilities equal access to government agencies, schools, hospitals and countless other locations and entities, both public and private. This includes digital assets, such as IT, applications, hardware and web-based assets, such as web sites, tools and cloud databases.
In addition, Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was amended to require federal agencies and those that do business with the government to ensure their digital assets, including websites, are accessible.
The need for a web accessibility standard for these regulations led to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Developed by W3C, it is the first set of digital accessibility standards and the authoritative source on how to comply with Section 508 today.
Outside the United States, other countries also have regulations requiring web accessibility, including the Canadian Human Rights Act, the European Union’s Web and Mobile Accessibility Directive, and China’s Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities.
The importance of web accessibility in this case is clear. Companies that operate within these countries and want to do business with them must comply with these regulations.
Access to All Creates New Audiences
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in four adults in the U.S. have some form of disability. Breaking it down further, about 6% of U.S. adults have a hearing disability, 12% have a mobility-related disability, and about 5% have a visual impairment disability.
That is a significant number of people who may not be able to access your company’s website, purchase products online and learn about the services you offer. By making your website accessible, it creates opportunities to reach new people and expand the business.
Accessibility Improves Overall User Experience
Digital user experience refers to how people feel when they’re on a website, mobile app, or another digital product. A positive user experience typically means a person can easily navigate the site, find what they’re looking for, and do so quickly and without frustration. Forms, buttons, user interfaces, and many other elements contribute to user experience. The best practices for web design and user experience often overlap accessibility recommendations and conformance requirements.
The connection between accessibility and user experience does make sense. Poorly designed navigation or a low-contrast between text and the background color can be challenging for many users. Tiny buttons that are difficult to see or tap on mobile devices limit access for people with disabilities but are frustrating to others as well. Web accessibility standards make a site easier for people with disabilities to use. When a site is easier to use, it often results in a better user experience for all.
How to Make Your Site Accessible and Usable for All
Many companies conduct an accessibility audit to determine whether their website, app, or kiosk is usable and in line with WCAG standards. Often, companies will opt to use a third-party vendor for this task, taking the review process out of the hands of the people who create and maintain the website or digital asset. This ensures objectivity and decreases the risk something will be missed.
If you would like to assess your website, app, or kiosk’s accessibility, schedule a call with a TPGi accessibility expert today.