What do I need to know about web accessibility?

Why do I need to know about web accessibility?

Did you know, 15 percent of the world’s population experiences some form of disability? That is equivalent to roughly one-fifth of the global population. With that in mind, it is best practice to design and develop for inclusivity.

Creating an accessible website would allow an additional 40.7 million U.S. residents the ability to access your site.

According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) everyone should be able to access your website. The ADA guarantees equal opportunity to citizens who have a disability.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility makes it easier for people to use the web. It does this creating a better user experience for a wider audience.

Accessibility focuses on how a person who is disabled would need to access your site. Then it makes adjustments to the design or content to increase accessibility. An accessible website allows everyone to the ability to view content. It also has many other benefits, such as increasing website speed.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) set the international standard for web accessibility by creating a set of guidelines. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 & 2.1), help companies to meet ADA compliance.

These guidelines require sites to successfully meet different conformance levels. For example, one of the success criterion is the use of color. The range of color contrast can influence the level of conformance.

What are the levels of conformance?

The WCAG guidelines are categorized into three conformance levels: A (lowest), AA (mid-range), AAA (highest).

  • Level A
    This conformance level is the easiest to meet. It has the least impact on website design or structure.
  • Level AA
    This level requires a bit more commitment, though is a reasonable ask for the majority of websites and can keep you out of legal trouble.
  • Level AAA
    This level has an extreme impact on the design, making it harder to implement and is a more demanding task. The W3C states that most sites will be unable to meet satisfy all levels of AAA success criteria because not all types of content can meet the requirements.

Should my site be web-accessible?

Not all sites are legally required to be certified. At Standard Beagle, we recommend a minimum of Level A conformance for all our clients, but we strongly suggest going further.

Accessibility overlaps with many design best practices, so conforming provides an excellent experience for all users. Additionally, research shows that accessible websites improve SEO, increases audience reach, and decreases overall maintenance cost.