More than 1 billion people in the world and 1-in-4 U.S. adults have a disability. Websites not developed to be accessible are challenging for people with disabilities to navigate and use, and inaccessible websites put their owners at risk of receiving an accessibility complaint or lawsuit. It is increasingly important for developers in the U.S., Canada, and EU to ensure the websites they build are accessible.
Not sure what website accessibility is and how to ensure the websites you build are accessible? You’re in the right place. This tutorial covers the fundamentals for understanding web accessibility as a developer and how to test your website for accessibility issues.
What Exactly Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to a website’s usability for people with a variety of permanent or situational limitations. Examples of disabilities that can impact people’s ability to use a website without specific coding considerations include blindness, hearing impairments, motor impairments that limit the ability to use a mouse or keyboard, and cognitive disabilities.
An accessible website is one that users of all abilities, including assistive technology users, can easily access, interact with, and navigate. Since 2008, there have been internationally-agreed upon standards that designers and developers can follow to ensure their websites are accessible. These standards are called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Key Features of Accessible Websites
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines consist of “success criteria” that can be used to measure a website’s level of accessibility. The criteria were created to ensure that websites are:
- Perceivable: the information and elements on the website can be perceived by users regardless of how they experience it. For example, blind users can have their screen readers read the website text that they cannot see, and d/Deaf users can read a transcript or captions if a video is present that they cannot hear.
- Operable: All people on all devices can use all user interface components, interactive elements, and the site’s navigation. The website needs to be fully functional for people who do not use a traditional keyboard and mouse to navigate the web.
- Understandable: The website’s content and functionality must be understandable. This applies equally to elements like the reading level of the page and the actual text content on the website, as well as to the website’s functionality.
- Robust: How the website is built, both through code and content entry, must be able to be accessed and interpreted by a variety of devices and assistive technologies.
The best way to ensure websites you develop are accessible to people of all abilities is to perform manual accessibility testing alongside running an automated AI scan.
How to Choose an Automated Accessibility
This article was written by Amber Hinds and originally published on WPShout.