Businesses that prioritize web accessibility in their corporate strategy are more likely to be innovative and send a positive brand message to their target audience that those who don’t. In fact, most corporates and online businesses are prioritizing web accessibility and promoting a digitally inclusive culture. Take, for instance, firms like Microsoft, Accenture, Apple, Google, and Twitter. All of them are going out of their way to ensure that their online content can be easily consumed by people with disabilities.
The internet is for everyone, including people with disabilities. By embracing web accessibility, businesses can not only avert the risk of an ADA lawsuit but also tap the huge population of potential customers who are faced with accessibility barriers.
So, what does it take to create an accessible website? The simple yet effective tips shared below will help you in this endeavor, equipping you for long-term success in this growing digital world.
1. Conduct a Web Accessibility Audit
A web accessibility audit can help you understand where you stand, allowing you to take the necessary steps towards creating an accessible website. Check your ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance to get a solid understanding of your website’s accessibility level.
Further, use these steps to measure your site’s level of accessibility in a systematic manner.
1.1 Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Guidelines
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is an internationally-recognized benchmark for web accessibility. The website offers guidance on how businesses can create an accessible website. For instance, it covers the basic markup techniques to make your site readable and offers guidance on how to properly incorporate videos, podcasts, and images into your content.
Use these guidelines to outline the scope of updating and redesigning tasks you need to take up.
1.2 Check the Website Code
Involve your developer to validate the basic website code. The WCAG offers a Markup Validation Tool that tests the basic markup of the site, checks images for the Alt Text markup, and points out the fundamental markup and semantic errors.
1.3 Review the Site Content
When auditing your site content, remember to check all forms of content, namely text, images, video, podcasts, or any other media. Here’s a handy checklist for reviewing the website content.
- Can you easily tab through the main navigation? If yes, your site enjoys great accessibility
- Are the heading tags used properly? These tags help organize the content structure, making it readable
- Do all your videos, images, and podcasts have a proper caption or audio description? This ensures that you visually-impaired users are able to consume your content with ease
- Is there enough color contrast in your website design? This is critical for your color-blind users
1.4 Check for Screen Reader Compatibility
Most people with disabilities will surely use screen reading technology to access content on a site. Hence, it is critical to check whether your site works well with such tools. Simulate your website using tools like ChromeVox Extension or Fangs that brings the speed and versatility of Chrome to visually impaired users.
2. Invest in an Inclusive Digital Design
Besides using the WCAG as your bible for getting accessibility right, it is important to brief your design team about your commitment to ensuring that your website is friendly to those with disabilities. Whether you are hiring an external agency or involving your internal team to redesign your business site, make sure they understand website accessibility well.
The team should also be aware of the prerequisites of creating a WCAG and ADA-compliant website and have the necessary tools for the job.
3. Count on Technology
Without a doubt, technology has improved the lives of people with disabilities. It has also changed the face of web accessibility and the inclusion of people with disabilities in the digital space.
Artificial intelligence, for one, is revolutionizing the web accessibility space. For instance, AI-powered web accessibility tools can scan through every component of a site and automatically apply the accessibility standards to make it accessible within 48 hours.
Such tools can streamline the complex and costly process of making websites accessible and help businesses achieve their accessibility goals. Investing in these technologies can help you speed up the process of creating an accessible web for all your users.
4. Don’t Forget to Test Your Site’s Usability
After you have taken all the necessary steps to make your site accessible, it’s time for conducting a usability test. Ideally, this should be performed by people with disabilities, allowing you to find any gaps in the overall accessibility of your website.
During the usability testing, make a note of the following –
- The hardships encountered by users when using your site or mobile app
- Any issues they face when using custom menus, toggles, or drop-downs
- Any other feedback received from them from the accessibility viewpoint
Based on the insights derived from the above exercise, create a checklist of the actionable tasks to be accomplished for improving your site’s accessibility.
Web accessibility is more than just a buzzword in the corporate world. It is a way to show the world that your business values, respects, and cares for all users equally. Use the tips shared in this post to make your website easier to use for individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Preceptist, a content marketing agency for SaaS businesses.