As a store owner, you’ll always want your store to be welcoming. Even if your potential customer has some disability, you would want to serve him equally. You can try to improve their shopping experience and ensure that your store accommodates everyone.
The same case should be in the online stores, but have you ever thought about your website? What if when visiting your website, people have trouble accessing your content due to any physical disability or restrictions on the web? Will your hard work pay off if you can’t even be accessible to your targeted audience? Thus, the only solution to this problem is to work on your website to make it accessible and for that, you must understand web accessibility guidelines.
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is the practice of making all types of digital media reachable and usable to everyone, even individuals with cognitive or physical limitations. Digital media includes websites, software programs, apps, and content.
Imagine strolling in a website built on a complex framework that doesn’t make navigating on the arrow keys challenging. Won’t you get frustrated? Such difficulties are faced by many individuals with visual impairments when they surf the internet. Thus, adhering to the essential design principles of web accessibility guidelines will ensure that people with impairments or limitations have similar experiences as people without them.
What are the levels of Web Accessibility?
WCAG 2.0 is a globally renowned web accessibility guideline. Organizations can achieve three degrees of conformity under the WCAG 2.0 guidelines: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Each level has its own set of criteria. However, the requirements that you need to meet may be prescribed by regional law, depending on where your organization operates.
WCAG Level A:
If your website lies at this level then you need to work harder to resolve the issues being faced by the user. Since this is the minimum level of accessibility, hence, hurdles to employing assistive technology will exist.
WCAG Level AA:
To reach this level, your website must incorporate the use of various assistive technology on both mobile devices and desktops. However, some barriers to access your website will still be there.
WCAG Level AAA
This is probably the most user-friendly version of your website. However, even if your website achieves the level AAA, it still won’t serve as an ideal website as many customers may find it difficult to browse in certain areas.
What Business Consequences Does Web Accessibility Have?
Many businesses prioritize increasing conversion rates and enhancing client interaction while overlooking the accessibility of their website. However, that should be at the top of the priority list.
Your company will fail to compete with your competitors if it does not adhere to accessibility requirements. It’s obvious that customers with limitations will abandon a website if they face difficulty using it. In fact, many would end up spending extra to purchase the same product from a company that provides them with a pleasant and easy-to-navigate experience. Therefore, having no website accessibility guidelines will make you lose your customers, eventually displacing your position in the market.
How Can Companies Benefit From WCAG 2.0 Compliance and Web Accessibility?
Organizations committed to web accessibility would stand out from the crowd. Since attempting to enhance the customer experience will generate satisfying customers, eventually leveraging the business.
- Inclusive businesses can broaden their market reach. They can engage favorably with all consumers and prospects, despite physical, mental, or other disabilities.
- Web accessibility will help you improve the organic search rankings of your website and boost your SEO efforts.
- Creating an accessible website provides a significant ROI (return on investment).
- When you have several participants making updates to your website’s content, it’s the universal design that provides you with feasible accessibility and safeguards the authenticity of your website.
- Investing in an accessible framework will allow your team to focus more on your website’s content and on the company’s goals. As they won’t have to stress over the accessibility.
- Enabling your team to effectively serve the clients as they cater to the content according to the prospect’s requirements and abilities.
Who needs to comply with Web Accessibility Guidelines?
Although every organization should consider complying web accessibility guidelines, the following are required for their well-being:
- Hospitals and health care providers
- Government organizations and municipalities
- Private organizations with 50 or above employees
- Educational Institutes
Is it Mandatory to comply with ADA for my Website?
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) aims to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. However, there is no specification or mention of internet compliance in the reform, because of which ADA compliance is not mandatory for any website.
Regardless, there has been a significant increase in the number of ADA website compliance lawsuits launched against businesses recently. Since,to ensure that digital platforms are accessible to everyone, many states have gone beyond their limits to pass their web accessibility laws.
WCAG 2.0 Level AA criteria are the best available benchmarks. If your website adheres to these guidelines, you reduce your chances of being sued.
What are the Principles of Web Accessibility Guidelines?
There are four basic principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are as follows:
Users must always be given information and UI components clearly and understandably. This indicates that consumers should be able to fully grasp the information not only through their senses of sight, but also from touch and hearing.
For instance, let’s take a look at an online application form. As soon as the user opens the form, numerous input fields appear in front of him. If the labels of each field aren’t readable, then it would be difficult for the user to comprehend the purpose of the fields.
This principle emphasizes the user’s efficiency in using different controls, navigation, buttons, and various interactive features. While for many website users, this means being able to obtain web content using voice commands or to steer a webpage using a keyboard.
In general, operable websites give the users a smooth experience as they are direct, simple, and don’t possess any unnecessary features that could obstruct users with impairments or limits.
A user interface’s operation and the information it provides must be comprehensible and clear. Thus, enabling the users to understand the content of the webpage and comprehend how to use the interface.
For instance, while registering, if the user cannot submit the form due to some input error, then the form must highlight the user where they have wronged. If the form doesn’t notify the place of correction, then the user won’t be able to understand why the form failed to submit.
All visitors, even those who use assistive devices or software such as screen readers, must be able to understand and consume your website’s content consistently. This technique entails designing HTML so that the assistive technology can interpret it without having to read it.
Web Accessibility Examples:
- Making use of Contrasting colors:
Website users who have visual impairments might find it challenging to read a text that has low contrast compared to the background, whether the background is simple or the text embedded within an image. Hence, incorporating text with high contrasting colors might make the content accessible to such users.
- Structured Material in Adaptive:
This entails that the HTML files must be written in a way that if the webpage styling gets excluded, even then, the intended structure and information stays preserved. For instance, if you compress the page layout, employing proper headings, a list of elements, bold and italic text, all must convey critical information.
- Offer Alternative Text:
Alternative text is used in HTML to explain the appearance and purpose of an image on a page. A basic principle of web accessibility is to give photographs alternate text.
Screen reader software is often used to make the information perceivable to users who have vision problems. It turns written texts or images into synthesized speech or tactile characters making the information accessible for them. Even if an image does not load, alt tags will be displayed in its place.
In addition, search engine crawlers benefit from alt tags because they provide much better image descriptions and context, allowing them to index an image accurately. This proves that accessible web practices enhance your SEO performance.
- Utilizing Consistent navigation:
Users with neurological or cognitive challenges rely on consistent design components to prevent losing track while browsing through the website. This is why you must provide users with consistent navigation elements such as site maps, site search, and consistent layouts, labels, and positions.
- Provide useful error messages:
Since no one enjoys receiving error messages, it would be best to provide a detailed description of the error message. You can also give recommendations to assist visitors in correcting their errors.
How to establish an Accessible Website?
Consider the following suggestions that might help you leverage your accessibility:
- Examine the current state of your website, taking into account all documents and pages.
- Determine what needs to be improved and attempt to eliminate habits that hinder your website’s accessibility.
- Examine your current content distribution strategies and evaluate which accessibility measures you already employ.
- Create a strategy for ensuring that optimal practices are being followed for all current and future digital projects.
- Redefine the standards of your organization, update procedures, techniques, and organizational policies.
- Establish an accessibility plan with a budget. to implement it, provide personnel training, and conduct workshops.
All businesses need to commit to web accessibility guidelines. Developing an accessible online realm for your company entails resolving accessibility challenges through innovation while defining new design and product development standards. Making your site approachable would allow the people with disabilities to get most of your website which means you can reach out a larger audience.