Why do I need to know about web accessibility?
Did you know, 15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability? That is equivalent to roughly one-fifth of the global population. With that in mind, it is becoming a best practice to design and develop to avoid web exclusivity. Creating an accessible website would allow an additional 40.7 million United States citizens the freedom to access your site. According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) (which guarantees equal opportunity to citizens who have a disability) everyone should be able to access your website.
What is web accessibility?
Essentially, web accessibility makes it easier for people to use the web by creating a better user experience for a wider audience. Web accessibility focuses on how a person who is disabled would need to access your site and makes adjustments to the design or content to increase accessibility. An accessible website not only allows everyone to the ability to view content but has many other benefits as well such as increasing website speed.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) set the international standard for web accessibility by creating a set of guidelines, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 & 2.1), help companies to meet ADA compliance. These guidelines require the fulfillment of success criteria to meet different conformance levels. An example of a success criterion is the use of color, or how the range of color contrast can influence the level of conformance.
What are the levels of conformance?
The guidelines are categorized into three conformance levels: A (lowest), AA (mid-range), AAA (highest).
- Level A conformance is the easiest to meet and has the least impact on website design or structure.
- Level AA 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 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 but at Standard Beagle, we recommend Level A conformance for our clients. 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.