Web accessibility is the practice of making websites and apps usable for everyone, including people with disabilities. There are many reasons to make your website accessible. Not only does it broaden your audience to those with disabilities, creating an accessible web experience also improves SEO and usability.
In 2017, the number of federal lawsuits about allegedly inaccessible websites totaled at least 814. This is well over the 262 lawsuits that were filed in all of 2015 and 2016. This makes it even more important to correct any issues that prevent your website from being accessible.
Web Accessibility Guidelines
Website accessibility is usually an afterthought and it often requires rework, redesign and recoding. When starting a new project or making corrections to your existing website, you should conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA (WCAG 2.0 AA).
Here is a rundown of some guidelines to follow for modern web accessibility:
- Design page text with sufficient contrast. Ensure the contrast ratio between text and background is at least 4.5:1.
- Provide text alternatives and captions for non-text media (videos and images).
- Do not use images of text.
- Use clear headings and labels.
- Ensure the keyboard focus is clear and visible.
- Use all menus, icons and buttons consistently.
- Ensure form input fields have a description that is explicitly associated with the field to make sure that users of assistive technologies will also know what the field is for.
What are the next steps?
Companies should run an accessibility scan of their website. There are numerous free online tools that can be used, including wave.webaim.org, www.siteimprove.com, and developer.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser. These tools will provide an overview of potential issues that need to be resolved by your developers.
Next, take a look into getting ADA compliant before you receive a demand letter.
WCAG 1.0 was first published in 1998, and its latest update, WCAG 2.1, is in development and is expected to be published as a standard later this year. Be sure to review your website again to ensure it conform to the latest set of standards.
Stay tuned for our next post in the series where we focus on design elements.