Website accessibility lately became a more important topic for many website owners. If you have not heard of this before, read further. I will give you a brief overview of what accessibility means, why it is important and what you need to implement it.
In short, it means to make your website usable for people with disabilities. For a website to be considered accessible according to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), it needs to fulfill the following four principles. Your website needs to be:
Anyone should be able to see or hear the content you provide on your website.
Anyone should be able to navigate your website easily. By touch, mouse, typing or voice.
The content on your website should be written or produced in a way that makes it easy to follow and understand for all your visitors.
There are many tools out there for people with disabilities to navigate the web more easily. Your website should be ready to support those tools.
By fulfilling all those principles, you make your website not only more easily usable for disabled people that live with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairment. It also helps older people as well as people with bad or limited internet access e.g. in rural areas and developing countries.
“Sounds interesting”, you might say, “but my customers are neither blind nor in any other way disabled. So, why shouldn’t we just ignore accessibility?”.
First of all, even if you are not aware of it, can you really be certain that not someone visiting your website might have problems with reading or listening? And what if that someone is a potential new client of yours? Did you know that around 15 % of the world’s population lives with some form of disabilities? It would not just be quite inconsiderate to ignore them, it would even hurt your business.
Actually, in some countries, even the law dictates that websites have to be accessible (see Accessibility guidelines and the law). Not complying with those regulations might cause you to lose out on those markets entirely.
But this is not all. There are even more reasons for you to make sure your website is accessible. One of them is SEO. By providing more information for people with disabilities, you also improve your website’s chance to be found on the web. After all, search engines care to find as much information as possible about your business on your website.
But first and foremost, making your website accessible is simply the right thing to do. A website should not be any different than any public building. No one should be restricted from getting in or using it just because of their disabilities.
This all seems like a lot to take in and a major project to implement on your website. But don’t worry, most of the changes can be implemented inside the code of your website without essential changes to your website’s structure, layout or design. To make a website accessible, a few clear ground rules have to be taken into consideration. The first thing you can do is to ask yourself the following questions:
You might be surprised that, without knowing it, you have most of the necessary elements in place just by having followed some important principles of web design, copywriting and SEO.
Should you, however, need further assistance to make your website truly accessible, I’d be thrilled to help you! Drop me a line and I’ll be in touch.