What Does Website Accessibility Mean?
Having an accessible website means that all users, including those with disabilities, can fully access and utilize all aspects of the website. Users with disabilities navigate and use websites differently. For example, those in the blind and deaf communities rely on screen readers, video transcriptions, and use both mouse and keyboard functionality to navigate a website. Accessibility can also be an issue for users with developmental or intellectual disabilities, among others.
Web Accessibility Compliance
Many people are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in public areas against those with disabilities. Although current law is not settled on how the ADA specifically applies to a company’s web presence, businesses should focus on creating a website that allows disabled users to access and enjoy the same benefits as a nondisabled user.
Government websites specifically must comply with Section 508 of the 1973 US Rehabilitation Act and meet accessibility standards outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Other industries, such as banking, are also making accessibility an important initiative in order to give all of their customers the same website access to products and services.
Although ADA web compliance guidelines remain unclear, the W3C has developed international web accessibility standards. The W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide technical standards listing accessibility success criteria and are important to reference when designing and auditing your website for accessibility.
The accessibility success criteria fall under three different levels: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA.
- Level A: the least difficult to achieve and meets basic accessibility standards.
- Level AA: must meet additional criteria and offers greater accessibility to disabled users than Level A.
- Level AAA: the most difficult level to meet as it requires the greatest amount of conformance and maximum impact on the website’s design and content.
Striving for Level AA compliance is recommended, not only so that disabled users can access goods and services through your website, but also to avoid potential litigation. To learn more about the W3C and their specific accessibility success criteria, visit their website.
Benefits of Accessible Websites
Fully accessible websites can lead to more visitors, enhanced interaction, and potentially greater sales. In addition, accessibility techniques also improve your search engine optimization, user experience, and mobile optimization. Finally, an accessible website lessens the possibility of discrimination claims and legal action.
Keep in mind, when creating or redesigning your website, it’s important to think about accessibility early on in the design process. We recommend discussing specific requirements and accessibility needs at the beginning of a project so that the team keeps best practices for design, development, and testing in mind during all stages of the project.
Need Some Help?
At SiteCrafting, we work with many clients on this subject and can help if you have concerns or need help improving accessibility on your website. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form.