Developing a website or portal for accessibility is no small challenge. While many site builders will immediately assume it’s just a matter of tweaking the HTML or CSS to meet the need, actual accessibility design perspectives come from understanding the difficulties people with disabilities have in using the Internet in different forms. This need is growing and cutting across different industries exponentially, especially as some generations with the largest numbers go into their senior years.
Website Accessibility Has Been on the Radar for a While Now
The concept of Internet accessibility has been promoted in recent years by significant HTML standard changes advocated in the Website Accessibility Initiative 2.0 (WAI) and also supported by the World Wide Web Consortium. Better known as the WAI, and administered by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) working group, the WAI sets out different specifications meant to address the specific essentials of known disabilities . So, for example, visual acuity would be responded to with improved color choices that provide better contrast between foreground data and background shading. Additionally, image labeling as well as related description have become commonplace and expected every time a photograph or graphic is used on a site.
The WAI also encourages the addition of multi-channel content delivery, an approach that fits well with today’s multimedia demands as well as providing audiences with different ways of consuming the same information. By providing the same content either as text, video, or audio, audiences with different disabilities can still enjoy the same information delivery, just with a method that works specifically better for them versus other modes. Because audio is a big player for improvement, it ends up driving additional changes, coding, compatibility, and back-end support for all the various pieces needed to make things work on demand, an aspect administrators have to take into consideration.
A Comprehensive Approach to Accessibility
Looking at the content of the WAI, site administrators is going to realize pretty quickly that it’s very comprehensive. In fact, the WAI breaks down accessibility needs in accessible web design into four main categories of delivery:
From there, each of the four main categories of needs then breaks down into dozens of subgroups and specific ways that sites can be improved from their current status.
While it is possible for one to use online free webpage testing tools to check current pages for identification of issues in conflict with the WAI set of standards, the free method doesn’t really go into a lot of detail about how to make those changes and where. This is where accessibility design expertise comes into play. Those who have been working in the field for an extended period can see and specify detailed changes very quickly. It typically takes someone already familiar with web design three months to fully understand the scope and breadth of accessibility review because a good amount of it involves seeing how sites interact with people, what’s missing, and then how to code it properly for the desired changes.
Don’t Take on a Digital Mt. Everest Alone
Bringing in site audit review resources like accessibe or similar is a great choice. Not only does this approach save valuable time, it applies professional-level expertise to the identification of accessibility issues in existing site code and where specifically it needs to be revised. That allows internal staff to stay focused on on-site maintenance and improvement versus trying to learn a new curve while competing with their regular duties. Ideally, accessibe reviews also set the baseline for how future work, site expansion or revision, and improvement should be applied, integrating accessibility as a regular requirement going forward.
Website accessibility expectations are just going to increase over time. Stay ahead of the curve by establishing your floor and building up from there on your websites as a regular procedure. Using scheduled accessibility reviews can also help, catching standard changes as they come up periodically. Don’t leave your audience behind; by being more inclusive your site will grow stronger with traffic and the word will spread as well, to your benefit.