Before we dive into the principles, let’s talk about what web accessibility means. It’s simply creating web content, design, and tools that everyone can access regardless of ability. The web experience needs to be accessible to everyone and shouldn’t limit the experience of a person with a disability. Types of disability include visual, hearing, neurological, cognitive, and motor. 15% of the world’s population possesses some sort of disability, which means a significant population cannot use the internet properly. Web accessibility helps provide equal access for anyone using the web.
Now, that we have a good understanding of web accessibility, let’s break it down into the 4 main principles. There’s perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
This means that when the user is visiting your website they can use one or more of their senses to perceive your content. For example, providing closed captions in videos, providing text for images, and making sure colors contrast enough for those who are colorblind (here’s a handy tool for that). Text can be converted to other forms that people with disabilities can use. It can be spoken by a screen reader or converted to large print. For multimedia content, make sure to provide text alternatives for them or at least use a descriptive identifier.
This means that a user can operate all of the interactive interface elements, such as buttons and the navigation menu. Not everyone can use a mouse and users have a variety of methods for accessing digital content. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple and don’t get fancy when it comes to interactive elements.
Some people with disabilities may only be able to use a keyboard to navigate and use features on a website. Shift, Tab, and Enter keys are the primary keyboard navigation, but there’s also a variety of other shortcuts. Another way to help achieve true accessibility is to make sure there’s a clear focus indicator. Your user should always know where the focus is on the webpage. Buttons, links, or other interactive elements should use a color change, outline, or subtle animation to show where the focus is.
All content on your website should be easily understood by visitors. Well-structured navigation within a consistent design goes a long way in improving the overall experience. Avoid complex sentences and overly complicated content. You want all the information to be easy to read. This will help make your content more accessible to people with learning/cognitive disabilities or people who don’t primarily speak the site’s language.
This means that we’re meeting the individual where they are. We’re ensuring the content is compatible with all devices used to consume digital content. This is when using responsive layouts is helpful because it allows the content to be flexible for any device.
Assistive technologies use a website’s HTML file to translate the content into a format easier to read for the user. So, you want to make sure your website’s HTML code is well-written. Avoid duplicate IDS for elements, use start and end tags, avoid duplicate attributes, etc. If you need help with this, here’s a great tool to use. If you would like more assistance, we would be more than happy to help.
Understanding web accessibility is an important element when it comes to your website. You want your website to create an impressionable and memorable digital experience. This will help boost customer loyalty as well as make your site more accessible to everyone.