Raising awareness about online accessibility

Improving online accessibility is becoming crucial in this day and age given rapid technological advancements and an ever-increasing reliance on the internet for accessing goods and services, as well as e-commerce. It is essential therefore that web and technology designers build accessibility into their websites and software so that access is not limited by disability. In order to achieve this, developers need to be aware of the range of disabilities that need to be catered for and the ways in which this can be achieved.

Web accessibility is an increasing priority

According to a report from Gartner, by 2020 web accessibility would have become a high priority for technology developers, and more than half of new businesses would have integrated some degree of IoT into their operations. It could also become a legal requirement in the near future. In the U.S, the Department of Justice and an increasing number of courts are now recognising lawsuits that are being filed under this act against online service providers that do not make their content accessible, whereas before this act had only stretched as far as the workplace.

Defining accessibility

Accessibility can be defined as the ability to access the data you need from anywhere, across all networks and under any environmental conditions. Read more What is web accessibility.

If a website is accessible, it should be able to be accessed by any individual irrespective of their disability. Any user should be able to engage with the full range of content, features and functions on the website.

Who is accessibility aimed at?

Web and technology developers should be aiming to address the whole spectrum of user disabilities, this includes audio-visual impairments, speech impairments, neurological issues, motor skill impairments and cognitive impairments and dementia. This includes people also with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD or ADD.

Providing alternative access methods

Online accessibility should therefore be designed to cater for the whole range of different user needs and disabilities. This involves providing ways to access information on a website that caters for all the access requirements pertaining to each disability. For example, captions should be put on all video content so they can be made accessible to the hearing impaired, while a text version of the site or a video transcript should be made accessible to the hearing impaired.

Access for the visually impaired

Access for users with limited sight or those that are registered blind is extensive given the challenges involved in navigating visual information. Users with visual impairments will prefer to use websites that have high contrast web browsers and those that make their content compatible with screen reading technology. This allows for web content to be interpreted in audio form. Providing alternative text for icons and images is also an important feature so that users can read pictures.

Accessibility generates business

Making websites accessible is not only an important move to ensure greater inclusivity online, it’s also important for business. Websites that are more user friendly and accessible actually rank higher on the Google search engine, and visibility is of course key to generating business. In addition, integrating accessibility will attract a wider range of potential clients to an online business.

CONTRIBUTED BY

This article is contributed by Jackie Edwards. Thank you for a wonderful work.

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