Having a website that is universally accessible isn’t just morally right, and good for your reputation and your customer base — it is also the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.
In the last almost three decades since the act was passed, the application to websites has become more and more relevant. The law implies that sites, as well as physical buildings, should be universally acceptable.
What Is Website Accessibility?
Accessibility protocols focus on making websites usable for all people, including those with disabilities. There is a wide range of impairments that are technically defined as disabilities in the US, including impairments that affect hearing, seeing, learning, cognition, and physical mobility.
All disabilities need to be considered, which makes accessibility an in depth and complex endeavor. The current standard for making a website accessible is called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 .
20% Of The Population Is Disabled
Website analytics are not telling you how many users with disabilities are attempting to use your site. For this reason, it can be hard to get a grasp on what kind of results your efforts regarding website accessibility will have.
For example, if you know that 25% of the people that use your website are using mobile devices, it makes sense to put time and money towards making your website compatible with mobile devices.
For privacy reasons, you will not be able to see how many people who are attempting to use your site have disabilities. However, a recent census report shows that about 1 out of every five people in the US is disabled.
Your First Steps
Making your site accessible for these 56.7 million people will widen your customer base. The people who find your website will have varying abilities when it comes to navigating through it. If they cannot comprehend or move through your site, they will abandon it, and you will lose a potential customer.
The best place to start with website accessibility for any business is to stop and analyze where you are now and build a business case that can guide you through the process. Assessment can be completed through self-testing of your existing web pages or requesting an audit from a company that specializes in web accessibility.
Once you know where you stand, it will be time to come up with company-specific goals with regards to website accessibility.
Website accessibility is good for business, and it is also the law. Despite the fact that your analytics can’t show you how many disabled people are using your site, statistics show that almost 20% of the population has a disability.
To include this segment in your customer base, you’ll have to make sure your website is compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. A great way to start yourself on the path towards accessibility is to assess how accessible your site is now, and then create a plan for moving forward.
Your site should always:
- Label any images
- Label structure of pages
- Use clear linking
- Be mindful of not using too much non-HTML design
- Use an open design structure
- Keep in mind readability and useability
- Avoid using noisy music or flashing images
- Keep in mind sensory requirements
- Keep your web pages consistent
- Use simple language
- Make sure a system of user testing is in place