Website accessibility is important because it ensures that people with disabilities can access and use websites without barriers. Below are a few key reasons why website accessibility is important:
- Inclusion and Equal Opportunity: Website accessibility allows individuals with disabilities to participate fully in the digital world, promoting inclusion and equal opportunity. It ensures that people with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments can navigate, understand, and interact with websites on an equal basis with others.
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Many countries have laws and regulations in place that require websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. Compliance with accessibility standards helps organizations avoid legal issues and potential penalties while demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity.
- Expanded Reach and User Base: By designing websites with accessibility in mind, businesses can tap into a larger audience. There are approximately 1 billion people worldwide with disabilities, and accessible websites allow them to access information, products, and services, thereby expanding the potential customer base.
- Improved User Experience: Website accessibility often enhances the user experience for all users, not just those with disabilities. Accessibility features like clear navigation, proper color contrast, and well-structured content benefit everyone, including older adults, users with low bandwidth, and those using mobile devices.
- SEO Benefits: Accessible websites tend to have better search engine optimization (SEO) performance. Accessibility practices such as providing alternative text for images, descriptive headings, and well-structured content improve website visibility and search engine rankings, leading to increased traffic and potential business growth.
- Brand Reputation and Loyalty: Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility enhances an organization’s reputation, fostering goodwill among customers, clients, and the public. It shows that a company values diversity and inclusivity, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive brand perception.
- Ethical and Moral Responsibility: Ensuring website accessibility is an ethical and moral responsibility. The digital world has become an essential part of everyday life, and denying access to individuals with disabilities creates unnecessary barriers and disadvantages. Embracing accessibility principles aligns with the principles of fairness, equality, and social justice.
By prioritizing accessibility, organizations create a more equitable and accessible online environment for all individuals.
Our Stance on Accessibility
As creators of digital environments here at Solid Digital we support and encourage making the web and digital environments more accessible for everyone. The level of accessibility features and functionality we implement can vary by client and project. However, at a minimum, the websites we create follow WCAG 2.1 Level A best practices when considering ADA accessibility.
We’re often in a position to consult and recommend an approach for the implementation of accessibility features and functionality for our clients as we work together. While we encourage including the highest level of accessibility as possible it’s important to understand the landscape, limitations, and legal requirements our clients may have.
One common roadblock we run into with our clients is a limited budget. It’s important to keep in mind that there are some easy areas which our clients can improve the accessibility of their website on their own if needed such as:
Headings: Use clear headings to communicate the organization of the content on the page and to help screen reader users to navigate the page content.
Images: Apply descriptive alt tags to images throughout the website that provide a clear explanation of the images used.
Links: Provide descriptive link names so that users can easily understand their purpose.
While we can, and have, implemented custom accessiblity features and functionality like the ability to change font sizes on sites, another option is to leverage an out of the box accessiblity tool. This would be our preferred recommendation particularly when clients are concerned about legal compliance and protection from litigation.
Tools such as AccessiBe and UserWay are very common and many of our clients are currently using these platforms. Both are comparable and the deciding factor between these out-of-the-box platforms typically comes down to the way each structures their pricing. AccessiBe’s pricing is determined by the number of pages on a site while UserWay’s pricing is determined by pageviews.
We always recommend getting feedback from real users with accessible needs if you have staff or clients who are willing to help-even better!