As awareness and interest around topics of accessibility continue to grow, businesses in every industry are expected to adapt in order to make their websites, apps, and other online platforms more compliant. But, what does it really mean to be accessible? And what can you do if you discover that your digital presence isn’t currently meeting those standards?
As marketers, our knowledge of digital accessibility challenges, solutions, and guidelines is constantly evolving, which means it is totally ok to realize that your digital presence has room to grow as well. The biggest mistake a business can make is to fail to do anything because they can’t do everything.
So, if you know that your site could use some improvement but you’re not sure where or how to get started, we have some good news for you: you just did!
What Does it Mean to be Accessible?
What Does it Mean to be Accessible?
Understanding the importance of accessibility compliance and identifying opportunities to enhance your digital presence are the first steps toward improving your website’s accessibility scores.
Let’s talk about what we’re actually looking for when we question whether or not a website is “accessible.”
Equity — The main objective of accessibility is to create web properties, content, design, and tools that can be used by everyone regardless of their ability, ensuring they are just as helpful, functional, and accessible for people living with disabilities as they are for members of what the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) defines as the general public.
Experience — Another huge benefit of having an accessibility site is that it ensures everyone who visits it has a positive experience. Creating positive experiences for your online audiences is one of the most effective ways to establish and enrich the relationship you’re building with them in real life.
Compliance — Fortunately, accessibility isn’t an ambiguous or ill-defined goal. In fact, there are trustworthy, industry-agnostic standards for web compliance with the ADA that are routinely published by the Department of Justice. Using these standards and requirements as our guide, we can accurately measure our site’s accessibility scores and identify the opportunities we have to improve on an ongoing basis.
Why Accessibility Matters
Those living with disabilities navigate the web in a variety of ways. Making your website accessible means accounting for and eliminating unnecessary barriers —like the absence of alt text, a lack of video captions, or poor color contrast in your design — that can make it difficult for those individuals to access the information or programs that businesses make available online.
Remember that accessibility is so much more than just a common courtesy or a secondary “luxury” objective. It is one of the primary ways for your business to communicate to web users that you value them and strive to be a valuable resource for them to depend on.
Creating positive experiences for your online audiences is one of the most effective ways to establish and enrich the relationship you’re building with them in real life.
Checklist: Web Accessibility Tune-Up
If you’re wondering how and where to start improving accessibility on your website,
here’s a simple checklist you can use to gauge your current performance, get it up-to-speed, and make sure you’re giving every member of your online audience your best.
1. Avoid Poor Color Contrast
Those who are sight-impaired or color-blind will have a difficult time accessing the information presented on your site if your design uses low contrast or if that information is conveyed using color cues alone. Strive to strike a healthy contrast between your text and your backgrounds, and incorporate alt text into your image-heavy designs or infographics whenever possible to make sure that those who use tools like screen readers can still get the information those images are trying to communicate.
2. Add Alt Text to Your Images
Text alternatives, or “alt text,” are invaluable to people who are sight-impaired as well as those who struggle with understanding the purpose of informational images like charts, graphs, or demonstrative illustrations. Alt text is used to communicate the purpose of those images, ensuring that every visitor gets the same quantity and quality of information.
3. Caption Your Videos
Captions are a simple way to make your video content accessible and valuable for members of the deaf community or people living with other hearing and audio-processing difficulties. Without captions, these audience members likely won’t be able to receive or interpret the information in your videos.
4. Eliminate Barriers in Your Forms
Understanding, filling out, and submitting a form on a website can be challenging for individuals living with disabilities or those who rely on tools like screen readers to interpret the information you’re asking them for. To make your forms more accessible, make sure that they include things like labels for each submission field, clear instructions, and clear error indicators (contrasted text or messages that notify the user of invalid or missing information).
5. Accommodate Mouseless Navigation
Some individuals are unable to use common navigation tools like a mouse or trackpad, and rely on keyboard navigation instead. Making your site keyboard-navigation-friendly will ensure that you’re not preventing these audiences from accessing your site and will alleviate other potential frustrations inherent with mouse-only navigation experiences.
By nature, accessibility is a moving target. The more we learn about our audiences and the digital platforms they rely on the more opportunities we’re given to grow, adapt, and continuously improve the experiences we create for them in those spaces.
Is it time to bring your site in for a performance tune-up? Our digital strategy crew is ready to help you get in, get up to speed, and get you across that finish line. Let’s talk!