Accessibility: If It Matters In Real Life, It Should Matter Online
Reaching the unreachable. How can we build an inclusive world through technology? Throughout the series of clicks and keyboard strokes to get from point A to point B on a website, we forget about the barriers that may hinder others from using the same online spaces.
As technology becomes more central in our day to day lives, there is the assumption that everyone can easily navigate Google or a simple website. But that's exactly it… it’s an assumption.
Reaching the unreachable is about mending the crack that allowed people with accessibility to fall into. It is about bringing the way we view inclusivity and aiding those with disability to the online space.
Don't have poor accessibility. Have P.O.U.R accessibility.
The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of principles and guidelines created by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). WCAG was designed to increase accountability by creating a shared standard for web accessibility. WCAG created the guidelines P.O.U.R to raise awareness and understanding of how to create an accessible online space.
Perceivable is about the way information is presented. Is there a possibility to adapt? Create a site where there is the ability to enlarge text, alter the layout, colours and settings to personalise a site to each individual’s needs. How can the site adapt to aid those using braille or screen readers?
Operable focuses on the functionality of the site. It is about adjusting the site to make it navigable. Prepare for keyboard accessibility and enable keyboard functionality, so that your site can be used through keyboard strokes as well as using a mouse or trackpad.
Understandable references the information. Use simple language that is understanding for all levels of reading ability and cognition. Make the functionality of your sight predictable; clear headings which allow you to make quick informed decisions.
Robust is fixated on the future. How can you maximise the way you interact with current users? Creating an adaptable site that can be interpreted by a variety of accessibility tools, voice functions and modern assistive technologies.
What standard of accessibility is necessary for your customer?
Accessibility is judged on separate tiers of conformance to these guidelines. A, AA or AAA the levels WCAG is judged upon.
Based on the needs of your customer you would consider meeting one of the below requirements:
Level A, is the minimum level of accessible web design conformity.
These are the most basic web features for accessibility. Level A is based around making sure there are core solutions in place. There should be alternatives for text-based content such as braille or using simpler language. The site should be easily navigable via keyboard strokes. And the overall layout of the foreground and background should be distinguishable to aid confusion.
Level AA, is the further adaptation of these web design traits.
AA focuses on the utilisation of most assistive technologies (Speech Input Software, Screen Readers, Large Print Keyboards, etc…). This involves the ability for each individual to customise their experience on-site. They should be able to resize text and alter the colour and contrasting of the site. As well, headings and labels should be clear and specific to ease site navigation.
Level AAA, is not applicable in all areas of accessibility.
Still, it is a further step into developing a more accessible web design. This means that the site should be able to identify and define unusual or non-colloquial words or abbreviations. There should also be a further focus on full site navigation through assistive technologies and or keyboard functionality. Lastly, Level AAA sites should have alternative versions of texts to provide for different cognitive capabilities and reading abilities.
Improving accessibility for everyone
Each brand has different challenges to face when interacting with customers with disabilities. Just because there is no one single solution, does not mean your brand should discard creating an accessible user experience.
It shows your brand's commitment to improving the customer experience for everyone and increases general usability for all. We call it reaching the unreachable.