What Is Website Accessibility?

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Browsing the web is like a second nature to most of us. But others with physical challenges can seem overlooked when we are creating our websites. We can take for granted the process of seeing the screen, reading the text, hearing the sounds, and being able to handle the mouse and keyboard.

When we talk about Website Accessibility, we are talking about making it viewable and usable by everyone. Website Accessibility aims to allow everyone with disabilities – including visual, auditory, speech, physical and cognitive – to be able to perceive, understand and contribute to the web. In addition to helping people with disabilities, Website Accessibility is also useful for the elderly, whose abilities have changed due to aging.

Making The Web Accessible

When it comes to making the web accessible, the responsibility largely falls on Website developers. We often use special software to not only determine whether a website is accessible but to produce these sites as well. A set of guidelines exist, created by the Website Accessibility Initiative, which help provide accessibility solutions for both Web developers and those who create the Web software. For developers working to make sure a site is accessible, you will want to follow these guidelines, as they are considered the international standard.

Making a website accessible can be very complex, or rather simple, depending on the project. Factors such as how big the site is, how complex the site is, the type of content, and the tools being used to develop the site all play a role in determining how difficult it will be to make a site accessible. The best way to go about making a site accessible is to plan it out from the beginning. It is much easier to implement these concepts from the beginning, rather than trying to fit them in after the site has been made.

Evaluating A Website for Accessibility

During the development process, it is important to regularly check to make sure your site is meeting accessibility standards. To do this, you are going to need different evaluation tools. While some things can be discovered by simply changing the settings on your browser, you will want to use as many tools as you can to ensure your site is accessible to as many people as possible. Here is a list of some evaluation tools, and we recommend using as many of them as you can on your site.

The Importance of Website Accessibility

Over the past decade or so, we have seen a dramatic increase in the way we use the web. More and more actions are being completed through the web each day, including employment, education, shopping, and communication. Not having access to the web can put a person at a severe disadvantage, and so working to ensure that your site is accessible by all is an important goal. The web is only going to become more popular and more important as the years go by, and if steps are not taken to ensure that everyone has equal access to the Web, they are going to be left behind. This is the goal of Website Accessibility, and why so many people are working to achieve it.

When you hear the phrase “Website Accessibility” it is referring to the global initiative to ensure that everyone has a chance to use and participate in the Web. However, there is not one single group that is working to achieve this for every single website. It comes down to the individual web developers to ensure that their website meets the proper standards, so that people with disabilities or who have lost some of the abilities due to old age can still use their website.

When planned from the beginning, a successful website can also be effective and accessible at the same time.  Are you concerned about your website not being accessible to customers?  Let us know how we can help!  Make sure your website is doing what it needs to do to reach your audience.

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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