Web Accessibility: What You Need To Know to Ensure Your Website is Inclusive

Nelet Kok
July 19, 2023

In the digital age, the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, impacting how we communicate, access information, and conduct business. However, not everyone experiences the web in the same way. For millions of people who are differently abled, navigating the online world can be a frustrating and exclusionary experience. Web accessibility is the key to bridging this gap and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and interact with websites seamlessly. In this blog, Tweak Agency, Wisconsin will explore five crucial points of web accessibility and why they are essential for creating an inclusive online environment.

The primary federal law that addresses website accessibility in the United States is the Americans with differently abled Act (ADA). The ADA (1990) with the goal of prohibiting discrimination against individuals with different abilities in all areas of public life, including employment, transportation, and public accommodations. The ADA was passed before the widespread adoption of the internet which means it doesn’t specifically make provisions for websites and digital content.

The key concept related to website accessibility under the ADA is that differently abled individuals should have equal access to the goods, services, and information provided on websites as everyone else. This means that websites should be designed and developed in a way that accommodates individuals with various differently abled, including those with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is currently seen as the standard for website accessibility. The WCAG is developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium and provides a set of guidelines for creating accessible web content.  Despite the absence of comprehensive federal regulations, the ADA remains the primary federal law governing website accessibility in the United States. Businesses are encouraged to follow the WCAG guidelines and adopt accessible design practices to ensure compliance with the ADA and to provide equal access to their websites for all users.

1. Understanding Web Accessibility

Web accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing websites and web content that can be easily used and understood by all individuals, including those who are differently abled. Individuals who are differently abled can be impaired in various ways, such as visual impairments, hearing loss, motor differently abled, and cognitive or learning differently abled. To cater to these diverse needs, websites must be designed with accessibility in mind from the very beginning.

Why it's important

When websites are accessible, they become more user-friendly for everyone, not just those with differently abled. Tweak Agency, Wisconsin believes that improved accessibility provides the opportunity for an inclusive online community, ensuring that individuals with diverse abilities can participate in education, job opportunities, e-commerce, and social interactions. Moreover, adhering to web accessibility guidelines can also enhance overall user experience, making it a win-win for both businesses and users.

2. The Power of Semantic HTML

Semantic HTML refers to using HTML elements that convey the correct meaning and structure of content on a webpage, rather than relying solely on visual cues. For instance, using headings (h1-h6) to organize content, creating descriptive alt text for images, and labeling form elements adequately are all aspects of semantic HTML.

Why it's important

Semantic HTML enhances accessibility by providing context and clarity to assistive technologies like screen readers. When content is presented in a structured way, users with visual impairments can navigate through the webpage more efficiently, understanding its layout and information hierarchy. Additionally, search engines rely on semantic HTML to index and rank web pages accurately, making it beneficial for discoverability.

3. Color Contrast and Visual Design

Color contrast plays a significant role in web accessibility, as it ensures that text and visual elements are distinguishable for all users, including those with visual impairments or color blindness. Implementing appropriate color contrast ratios ensures that text remains readable against different backgrounds.

Why it's important

Color contrast impacts not only users with differently abled but also those using devices in varying lighting conditions or with lower-quality screens. A visually appealing website is excellent (if you’re interested in a new website, give Tweak Agency, Wisconsin a try!), but not at the cost of readability and comprehension. Maintaining proper color contrast increases the legibility of text, reduces eye strain, and ensures that all users can engage without difficulty.

4. Keyboard Accessibility

Many users with motor differently abled rely on keyboards or other assistive devices to navigate websites. It is essential to ensure that all interactive elements on a webpage, such as buttons, links, and form fields, are fully operable using a keyboard alone.

Why it's important

Keyboard accessibility not only benefits users with motor differently abled but also those who might be temporarily unable to use a mouse due to injury or other reasons. Moreover, it contributes to a smoother and more seamless browsing experience for all users. Implementing keyboard accessibility is also a requirement for meeting accessibility standards and legal obligations, ensuring that your website is compliant with regulations like the Americans with differently abled Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

5. Video and Multimedia Accessibility

We spoke about the opportunity to enhance the user experience on your website by using visual elements, like videos and photos. As Tweak Agency, Wisconsin  we’ve found that the use of multimedia continues to grow on the web, it is vital to make sure that videos and audio content are accessible to all users. This involves providing captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions for multimedia elements.

Why it's important

Captioning is crucial for individuals with hearing impairments, allowing them to understand the content without relying on audio. Transcripts provide an alternative means of consuming information for those who prefer reading or have difficulty with multimedia. Audio descriptions in videos benefit visually impaired users by describing visual elements, actions, and scenes that cannot be understood through audio alone. Implementing these features ensures that everyone can access and comprehend multimedia content on your website, promoting inclusivity and diversity.

In conclusion, web accessibility is not just a legal requirement; it is a moral imperative. Creating an inclusive online environment is the right thing to do but also supports growth to a broader audience and potential customers for businesses. By understanding and implementing these five crucial points of web accessibility, website owners can help create a more inclusive digital space where everyone can participate and thrive.

So, let's take the necessary steps to make the web a place that truly belongs to everyone! Websites created by Tweak Agency, Wisconsin are fully accessible.