Recently a colleague’s youngest son was approved for an IEP (Individualized Education Program), a legal document under US law that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. It is created through a team of the child’s parents, teachers, and district personnel who are knowledgeable about the child’s needs. Their son has Tourette’s, ADHD, and an Emotional Disability, qualifying him to receive special services under US law. Some of these services would include technology that has certain web accessibility features for his unique needs.
According to many sources, the basic definition of web accessibility, or eAccessibility, is the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites on the World Wide Web by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socioeconomic restrictions on bandwidth and speed.
More and more today, companies that want to stay competitive in a flooded market need to ensure that their websites are accessible not just because it keeps them competitive but because it is the right thing to do.
Websites should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Website accessibility is ensuring that websites are designed and developed in a way that makes them usable by as many people as possible, including those with impairments such as:
Why does accessibility matter?
Website accessibility is crucial not only for people with disabilities but also for everyone else. Many people face temporary or situational limitations that can make it challenging to use a website, such as poor internet connection, small screens, or noisy environments.
By making your website accessible, you can improve the user experience for all visitors, leading to higher engagement, satisfaction, and conversion rates. Moreover, website accessibility is a usability imperative and a legal one.
A quality website development firm will follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a set of internationally recognized standards for website accessibility. The WCAG provides a framework for making websites perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, meaning people can access them using different devices, assistive technologies, and languages.
Accessibility means that all people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with electronic information and be active, contributing members of the digital world. Visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities should be considered when implementing accessibility measures.
For example, my colleague’s son has neurological disabilities that can create almost unbearable headaches and uncontrollable tics when exposed to hours of screen time. In other words, he gets sensory overload.
Accessibility is especially important in the educational environment. Educational institutions should strive to make their websites accessible to all students with disabilities, offering alternative ways for them to learn and interact with the material. For example, websites should be designed to be readable by screen readers, and alternative navigation methods should be provided.
In professional settings, website accessibility is also a significant factor. Businesses must ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws. Businesses should also strive to make their websites as accessible as possible to maximize their reach and potential customer base.
Accessibility is also a key factor when it comes to creating content. Websites should be designed to be easily accessible and navigable by people with disabilities, and content should be written in an easily understood and interpreted way. In addition, content should be written in plain language and designed to accommodate different reading levels and needs.
Finally, accessibility should be considered when designing mobile device websites. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular, and websites must be designed to be accessible and usable on mobile devices. This includes designing websites with larger fonts and buttons and ensuring that content is adjusted to fit the device’s size.
Some of the accessibility features that can be incorporated into the sites include:
- Alternative text for images, videos, and audio files to provide descriptions for people who cannot see or hear them
- Captions and transcripts for videos and audio files to provide text versions for people who cannot hear or understand them
- Keyboard navigation, to allow people who cannot use a mouse or touch screen to navigate the website using the keyboard
- Color contrast to ensure that text and images are visible to people with color blindness or low vision
- Scalable fonts allow people with visual impairments to increase the size of the text
- Clear and simple language to make the content easy to understand for people with cognitive impairments or limited literacy skills.
Importance of accessibility in information
Accessibility means that all people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with electronic information and be active, contributing members of the digital world.
Accessibility is essential in all aspects of life, especially regarding information. Accessing information is vital for everyone, regardless of their physical, emotional, or cognitive abilities. In the educational setting, accessibility is especially important for students with disabilities. Accessible information can help students with disabilities participate in the classroom and gain the same access to knowledge and opportunities as their peers.
In the professional setting, accessibility is also an essential factor. Accessible information can help employees with disabilities to participate in the workplace and reach their full potential. Therefore, companies should strive to make their work environments accessible to all employees and provide them with the necessary resources to succeed.
In addition to the educational and professional settings, accessibility is important in all aspects of life. Being able to access information can enable people with disabilities to take part in the community and make their voices heard. Accessible information can also help people with disabilities to find jobs, participate in leisure activities, and access services.
Finally, accessibility is important for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Accessible information can help us all, including those with temporary or situational limitations, to access the resources we need to succeed. Accessible information can help people stay informed and participate in the world.
In conclusion, website accessibility is imperative in educational and professional settings. By ensuring that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities, businesses can reach a broader customer base, and educational institutions can ensure that all students can learn and interact with the material same as their peers.