Why is web accessibility so important?

Because accessibility creates inclusion online for all individuals.

Every year the world becomes more and more digital.

There are currently over 4.6 billion internet users worldwide and over 1.95 billion websites. More businesses and consumers are online every year so it is more important than ever that the web provides equal access and equal opportunity to all users.

Web accessibility is crucial to creating equal access and online opportunity for all individuals. For individuals with disabilities, as inaccessible websites can create barriers to information, products or services. Web accessibility can also greatly improve the usability and inclusion of digital platforms for ageing users, or those with situational or environmental disadvantages.

Web accessibility is important for businesses as it can help to access a wider market, deliver innovative digital experiences, create an inclusive brand, and minimise legal risk. 

To dive deeper into how web accessibility impacts individuals and businesses, check this out.

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What are the benefits of web accessibility?

When we talk about web accessibility, the most grand and obvious benefit is that web accessibility opens the door to users with disabilities to enjoy online products, services and businesses. What a lot of businesses don’t realise, is that they can actually benefit massively from web accessibility in a number of other ways. 

When a website is built to be accessible it uses user experience design concepts that also improve how users without disabilities can navigate and understand your website. Furthermore, cleaner coding structures used for accessibility help Google’s bots crawl your website and can heavily boost your search rankings, also known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). 

  • Benefits for Individuals

    Benefits for Individuals

    • Access to information

    • Access to services

    • Access to products

    • Social inclusion

  • Benefits for Businesses

    Benefits for Businesses

    • Improved user experiences

    • Positive Brand Reputation

    • Improved SEO

    • Removes legal risk

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How is web accessibility tested?

Web accessibility testing or auditing helps to evaluate whether your website is accessible compared to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Testing against the WCAG helps to uncover the exact elements on your website that can create barriers for your users. It’s important to note that not all web accessibility testing is the same and the type of testing you choose should align with your goals. 

  • Automated Testing - There are a tonne of free testing tools available online that provide automated audits of your website. These tools are great for initial accessibility health checks but they don’t cover all of the requirements detailed in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Automated testing is best for uncovering basic errors in your website design and code. 
  • Manual Testing - To properly uncover accessibility issues, manual testing is a must. At a birds eye view, manual testing involves searching for errors in the content, user interface, structure, and front-end code of a website. Manual testing uncovers issues that can’t be identified by bots or automated tools and is exactly what you need if you’re looking to achieve WCAG 2.1 Compliance.

Check out our more detailed overview of how you can test the accessibility of a website, including the professional process our teams follow. 

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Understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, commonly abbreviated to WCAG, are the guiding principles of web accessibility. The WCAG is seen as the gold standard for digital inclusion and is endorsed by web developers, designers, digital businesses, and governments all over the world. 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are built on four foundations

  • Perceivable - ensures that information on a web page is not invisible to all of a user's senses.
  • Operable - ensures that a website allows users to navigate it completely without the need for a mouse or anything but solely a keyboard.
  • Understandable - ensures that the page language is correct and that content is communicated in a way that is not overcomplicated or difficult to understand.
  • Robust - ensures that a web page and it’s content is robust enough to be accurately interpreted with any advancing technologies, such as multiple web browsers, assistive screen readers or voice activated devices. 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which is an international community that maintains global web standards. The most recent edition of the WCAG is 2.1, with 2.2 currently in draft phase! 

WCAG 2.1 is the most recent and predominantly utilised version which consists of three levels of conformance. These conformance levels are measured by the number of success criteria within the WCAG 2.1 are met. The three levels of conformance are A, AA, and AAA, with AAA being the highest and most effective level of accessibility. Level AAA ensures that all WCAG requirements are met.

Learn more!Here we take a deeper dive into the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the four foundations: ‘Perceivable’, ‘Operable’, ‘Understandable’, and ‘Robust’.

From the Internetrix blog.

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