Whether you build websites or pay someone else to do it, web accessibility is a recommended best practice that is often overlooked.
Did you know that according to the Colour Blind Awareness Organization, as many as 1 in 200 women and 1 in 12 men are color blind?
Or, that according to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults living in the U.S. have some type of disability?
Now, you may be looking at your current website and wondering if you really need to update your site to meet WCAG 2.1 accessibility guidelines.
In this article, I’m going to discuss why creating accessible websites is not just the right thing to do, but also a good design practice.
I. What is web accessibility?
Before we talk about why web accessibility is important, let’s quickly cover what it means to have an accessible website.
“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.”
Access and use of online opportunities should be equitable, fair, and inclusive. Ensuring that your website includes web accessible features, ensures that you are not alienating users unintentionally.
Here are some examples of features that you probably use and might not know are designed for accessibility:
- Using effective contrasting colors in combination with icons to convey error and success messages
- Light mode vs. Dark mode
- Changes in the way an element is highlighted based on its state
And, while these kinds of features help to tear down barriers to access for people with disabilities, it’s important to note that accessibility helps everyone.
II. Who uses accessible websites?
There’s a misconception that web accessibility only matters to people who have disabilities. But, as you saw in the example features above, everyone benefits from more inclusive and accessible web design, whether or not they recognize it.
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Some examples of other groups who use accessible features include:
- People who are temporarily disabled
- People who live in rural areas with slower internet speeds
- Older people
- People living in developing countries
Everyone can benefit from the use of web accessibility features.
If your site’s design doesn’t include accessibility features, how many of your site’s users can’t interact with your site? Or never return because they had a terrible user experience when they did use your site?
By not having an accessible website, you may be excluding potentials users or customers.
III. Possible Consequences if site is NOT accessible?
But there’s another reason you may want to include accessibility features in your web design.
The legal kind!
Caveat, I am not a lawyer. But, a recent decision from the 9th Circuit Court of appeals stated that inaccessibility of a business’ website (who will not be named) or app impeded access to goods and services available in their physical locations, which are places of public accommodation.
In addition, you may also damage:
- User experience
- Your brand
- Your bottom-line
IV. When to work on it?
So now you understand why it’s important to include accessible features, and you may be asking yourself:
”When is the right time to start thinking about making my website accessible?”
Ideally, a website’s ability to meet accessibility standards should be addressed in the design & development phases.
Otherwise, if you think your website isn’t meeting web accessibility guidelines, then the right time to address this is:
Here at Perficient we offer customized development solutions, so you don’t have to worry about your site’s accessibility.
Stay tuned for the next installment of my web accessibility series. I’ll walk you through some of the common mistakes people make when designing web accessible features.