The Four Principles of Web Accessibility

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Every business owner is panic regarding website accessibility. The reason behind this is the increasing number of lawsuits by plaintiffs for the businesses. The common view is that Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites and requires that they be accessible to the public on desktop computers as well as laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. 

In addition, some courts have ruled that businesses have a legal obligation to require third-party vendors to make their applications accessible even if they operate only within the businesses’ websites. Even if a business successfully defends a claim, the expenses of litigation may exceed the cost of compliance. Also, the business evaluates the reputational risk. 

What is Web Accessibility?

It is easy to build a website but it is important to build it for the disabled ones. So, an accessible website must be – used by all types of people like normal as well as disabled with various sight, hearing, and mobility problems. 

Why Does Web Accessibility Matter?

Basically, the goal of building a website is to reach more consumers. What if you cannot give access to the ones you care about? A customer can be anyone, including the disabled ones. By not providing a clear, easy way for people in your target audience to reach you, based only on a very particular characteristic, doesn’t make business sense. So, you are losing a mass of consumers by not making a website accessible for them. Thus, your website accessibility matters otherwise, there are a lot more competitors who care about all of the users and will easily steal your target audience from your website or else you might have to face litigation

What Should Businesses Do?

Website accessibility lawsuits are proving to be challenging to defend and expensive to resolve. There are two cases –

First – Cases are settled if the court finds that a website is inaccessible – it orders to make inconvenient and to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fee, costs, and expenses. 

Second – business needs to pay the plaintiff monetary damages or civil penalties under state/local law. 

If a business receives a letter of litigation then it must consult a legal counsel and their web designer immediately. Engaging a web accessibility consultant to review their online platforms and, ultimately, certify compliance also is strongly recommended. Plus, it is mandatory to check the web accessibilities guidelines

What are Web Accessibility Guidelines?

Every business must go through the guidelines that are introduced by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). TheW3G organizes the standards into four principles:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

Principle 1 – Perceivable

Provides Alt-text For Non-text Content 

Provides Alt-text For Non-text Content

The simplest way to explain an image or non-text content is by providing an alt tag. The easiest example is what’s called an “alt tag” for images. Alt tags provide just that – a text alternative for an image file. They are useful in many ways for different people. Like for low internet speed, an image takes time in loading, an alt text will describe what the image is about. Plus, for people with visual impairment, alt text is a way to explain the image as well as for better understanding the content on the website. 

In addition, alt tags are great for Search engine Optimization. A description that accurately describes the subject of the image helps Google and users understand it, even if they can’t see it because of any reason. 

Other forms of text alternatives include descriptive captions, well-titled forms, and even text tables to support visual graphs. As a result, users have a better experience across any device. 

Provides Captions and Other Alternatives for Multimedia 

A caption is another way to make non-text content readable like a video or audio element. It’s important to support these media in ways that can be accessed regardless of device or disability. 

Create Content Presentable in Different Ways

Content must be presented in a way that would be impressive even without styling it. Besides, this has an SEO benefit as well. Clear structured content, whether by correct header levels or by correctly identifying elements like tables as such, helps search engines understand the content on a page. 

Make it Easier for Users to See Content

Color is a strong visual element that a website can definitely use to its fullest extent to drive action and create a cohesive brand. Within that, sites should also use a color with consideration and not as the only visual means of conveying information. 

Other considerations include a high contrast level between text and its background. The text must be resizable without loss of content or functionality and providing alternatives for images of text. 

Principle 2 – Operable

Make All Functionality Available From a Keyboard

Make All Functionality Available From a Keyboard

Making all functions available from a keyboard relies mainly on not blocking any functionality. In addition, change the keyboard interaction for an interactive experience by advising the user on how to navigate.  

Almost everyone is familiar with the common functionality of jumping between elements on the computer using the tab button. By this, it’s possible to access the keyboard without using the mouse. 

Give Users Enough Time to Read and Use Content

One of the best examples to explain this point is, the sliding images. These kinds of images don’t allow enough time for the user to read. In addition, giving control to the user to pause the image is the best way to make your website impressive. 

Do Not Use Content That Causes Seizures

It is mandatory not to use anything that flashes more than three times in a second, according to WCAG 2.0. 

For instance, a video of a flashbulb may violate this rule. This can be improved by decreasing the contrast of the content or by slow down the flash to below the threshold. 

Help Users Navigate and Find Content

The best practice is helping users navigate and find content. Ultimately, it is an accessibility necessity.  

The specific techniques in this area of website operability include:

  • Clear page titles
  • Well-organized content
  • Easy to understand website structure
  • Descriptive link text (Like “Click Here”)
  • Clear and frequent headers that provide structure to on-page content 

Principle 3 – Understandable

Make Text Readable and Understandable

Make Text Readable and Understandable

The language of a page must be clear and understandable. Plus, the content must appear and operate in predictable ways. That’s the purpose of content architecture and navigation. 

Relatedly, the main navigation should always remain the same on any page and remain in the same location. On complex sites, there may be sub-navigation areas for particular areas of the site. The same location and clear denotation are important. 

Principle 4 – Robust

Maximize Compatibility With Current and Future User Tools

It states that the content of the website must be robust enough to be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. 

Furthermore, it also includes responsive design as well as cross-browser compatibility. This means the website should not change the content, meaning, or delivery depending on a user’s browser, for example, chrome, firefox, internet explorer, etc. 

Checklist for Identifying Website Accessibility Issues

Businesses should engage with the professionals in terms of their website accessibility or web development to get reviewed for the accessibility of their website. For basic knowledge, every website owner must go through the checklist to identify ADA web accessibility issues and resolve them. 

Conclusion

Technology is great that it allows all types of users to create a better experience by the businesses. By adding such features, convenient for the users to access the website is beneficial for both sides, SEO as well as sales. Plus, the discrimination factor is eliminated and people are able to deliver their products and services to almost everyone. This is the only possible way to reach out to as many people as you can. 

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1