The dictionary defines ‘accessibility’ as ‘the quality of being easy to obtain or use’. So, when you consider the term ‘web accessibility’, see what Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, had to say:
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
It’s nothing complicated. Web accessibility simply means that all websites – in fact, anything on the Internet – are created in such a manner that people with disabilities can use them with ease. They should be able to access, assimilate, and understand the information on websites just as any other person can.
Such a universal accessibility will help people who are old, have poor vision, are hearing impaired, or are temporarily unable (recovering from an accident or surgery) to use a mouse or keyboard, or any other conditions, to access the web easily.
Why is web accessibility so important?
Today, almost all businesses have a strong online presence. They are making sure their websites are not just informative, but responsive and come with accessibility features as well. This makes it easy for potential customers to find them online and reach out to them. By ‘customers’ we are being inclusive of all.
The benefits of having an easily accessible site are significant:
- The website will be in compliance with the laws and policies laid down by web content accessibility guidelines.
- You can save money by including accessibility features during early stages of the website’s development instead of having to spend big money later.
- There will be greater traffic and increased customer base, which means growth in business. For instance, people who cannot read or go to a physical store might end up visiting your website and making purchases.
Making a website accessible to all does involve some planning during the early stages of its development. Here are some things to bear in mind:
The Alt tag – The Alt (alternative) tag is an HTML attribute that’s used to describe images on a website. For the visually impaired, this is the only way to understand what an image signifies.
Background and text colors – Ensure that the colors used on the website are not too garish. If the text isn’t easily readable, those with weak eyesight may not be able to comprehend what they are seeing.
Tab navigation – For those who cannot use the keyboard or mouse easily, clicking on the Tab key can help them jump from link to link.
Pause on videos and media files – Include an intuitive onscreen option to pause media files and videos, say the Esc key or the space bar.
Closed captions for videos – If someone cannot play the audio or has a hearing disability, this can visually help them to make sense of what they are watching.
If you feel there have been no complaints and it’s therefore unnecessary to make your website more accessible, it’s likely that potential customers have gone elsewhere, taking their business with them!
So, do ensure your site is accessible and test it out before taking it live. In fact, you can go one step further and have a group perform a test run, to ensure your website has a healthy mix of accessibility options. We do understand that it involves time and money, so you might have to hire additional resources and increase your budget a bit. But we can assure you that the effort will be well worth it.
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