Importance of Accessibility in Web Design
Web accessibility is the practice of ensuring that people with disabilities can access and use web content. This includes designing websites and web applications that can be used by people with various disabilities, such as visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor impairments. Web accessibility is crucial for creating an inclusive online environment where everyone can participate and access information without barriers.
History of Web Accessibility
Web accessibility has been a topic of discussion and regulation for several decades. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against in all areas of public life, including the web. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which was passed in 1998, requires that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government is accessible to people with disabilities. In 1997, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) was established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to promote web accessibility and develop guidelines and techniques to improve web accessibility. The WAI is responsible for the development of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a set of standards for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities.
Current State of Web Accessibility
Web accessibility is still a critical issue in the digital age. Despite regulations and guidelines, many websites and web applications are not fully accessible to people with disabilities. This is a problem because people with disabilities often rely on the internet for access to essential services, education, and employment. In recent years, there has been an increase in lawsuits related to web accessibility, and companies are becoming more aware of the need to ensure that their online content is accessible. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the importance of web accessibility, as many people have had to rely on online services to access healthcare, education, and other essential resources.
Best Practices for Achieving Web Accessibility
Some best practices for achieving web accessibility include:
- Providing alternative text for images and other non-text content
- Simplifying forms and ensuring that they can be completed using assistive technologies
- Providing captions and transcripts for audio and video content
- Using clear and consistent navigation
- Using color contrast that is easy to read for people with low vision
- Ensuring that web content can be accessed through keyboard-only navigation
- Providing clear and concise language in web content
Section 508 requires that every online platform run by federal bodies or any organization that recieves federal funding must be accessible for all users.
The 4 principles of WCAG
- Perceivable - Referring to senses of sight, sound and touch. Includes issues such as adjustable text for contrast, color, text size and spacing, font and videos with captions.
- Operable - Refers to the ways the site can be used. Includes keyboard navigation ability and sight-assisted navigation.
- Understandable - Simply put, the site should not have complicated instructions and consistent directions that won't confuse readers.
- Robust - Refers to using standardized HTML and CSS as well as compatibility with assistive tools used to browse online.
Links To Assist In Compliance
Find out if your site is accessible and compliant in one click!
Color Contrast Analyser (CCA)
This free tool can be downloaded and aids in assuring with color contrast compliance.
We Can Build Accessible Websites
Ecoweb Systems has the knowledge and ability to build your WCAG compliant site. Our website design services include web accessibility options that will ensure your full compliance. Get in touch today and let's thrive together!