According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people worldwide live with some sort of disability. Consequently, if your business has already gone digital, there is a good chance that some of your customers and target audience have physical limitations. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that all users can easily navigate and use your website, leading to a positive user experience. Thus, meet the website accessibility concept.

So, what Is Website Accessibility?

It is a set of web design best practices for improving user experience for people who have visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive disabilities or limitations.  In other words, website accessibility aims to ensure that users with disabilities have the same experience on a website as everyone else.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) first presented the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which serve as the official, formal standard for website accessibility, in 1998.  WCAG is an internationally recognized set of guidelines, suggestions, and best practices for implementing website accessibility.

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Key principles of Website Accessibility.

Perceivability, operability, understandability, and robustness are the four key principles of Website Accessibility. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

1. Perceivability

The user’s ability to easily perceive and understand a website’s content, including text, images, buttons, and navigation, is determined by the perceivability of the website. A user who is visually impaired might have trouble understanding information the same way as others. As a result, they commonly use accessibility tools like screen readers and magnifying tools. Using contrasting colors, easily read text and alternative methods of presentation for time-based media. An accessible website should support such aids while also being easily perceptible.

You can optimize your website for increased perceivability for users with visual impairments. This means adapting it for users with visual impairments. You can do it by implementing alternative text enriched by visual elements, using strong color contrast, and incorporating videos, sound recordings, podcasts, and other forms of visual or audio-based content.

2. Operability

A website’s operability refers to how easy it is to use and navigate. The cornerstone of operability is the user-interface design, which includes navigation and key button layout.  Most website users interact with them using standard devices such as a keyboard, mouse, touchpad, or their fingers to tap on a smartphone screen.

It will not, however, work the same way for users who have specific motor limitations. Instead, they may rely on specific tools and techniques to operate their devices, such as using only the keyboard for navigation, speech recognition, or a joystick or switch instead of a mouse. Your website must support these alternative input techniques and devices in addition to being simple to use and navigate.

To improve the operability of your website, avoid content that blinks or flashes rapidly. Ensure that your website’s navigation structure is clear and easy to follow with highly visible clickable links and implement Keyboard-Only navigation.

3. Understandability

A website’s understandability refers to how simple it is to comprehend its meaning and content. Because it considers users who might have certain mental or cognitive limitations and might struggle to fully understand a website’s content if its language and presentation are overly complex or confusing, understandability is a crucial principle.

To keep your resource understandable, keep the content of your website straightforward, avoid jargon or overly colloquial and culture-specific expressions, and present it in a logical, simple, organized way that won’t disorient users.

4. Robustness

The robustness or responsiveness of a website refers to how “accessible” its code is and how well it integrates with the software and hardware tools that people with disabilities commonly use when browsing the internet. These include speech recognition software, screen readers, eye-gaze, and other tools. Integrating Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) makes your website more robust.

Optimizing for responsiveness means making your website compatible with web content access tools like screen readers. The HTML code on your website must be properly formatted for these tools to recognize and display it correctly.

This is accomplished through a process known as parsing, in which a computer program, such as a web browser, scans the HTML code of your website, separates it into individual components, and then shows these components to users in the manner and order intended for display.

Website accessibility can be evaluated using various tools. The most widely known are the basic Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE), more advanced Accessibility Checker, and narrow-focused A11Y Color Contrast Accessibility Validator.  However, if you prefer to delegate your UX design to experienced professionals, give us a call and we will handle the rest.

Table of content
1. So, what Is Website Accessibility?
2. Key principles of Website Accessibility.