WCAG 2.0 / AODA / ADA: The Importance of Website Accessibility
The Internet is one of the modern world’s greatest equalizers. As an endless well for knowledge, research, information, and social interaction, anyone (no matter what their status) uses it. However, despite its promises of inclusivity and worldwide access, some of today’s users are still unable to fully access it — not for lack of trying. This shortcoming is in the web designer’s end.
Users whose backgrounds hinder them from actively engaging online are the differently abled.
The average web designer or custom programming specialist don’t often take into account people with disabilities when creating their platforms. This makes a huge chunk of the Internet’s resources, community, and benefits inaccessible.
This is why it’s important to prioritize website accessibility and abide by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) when designing a website for your business, blog, or company.
Here’s what you need to know about website accessibility and its importance.
What Is WCAG and Web Accessibility?
Developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium, WCAG is a strict set of guidelines standardized by experts, to ensure that all Internet designs are safe, accessible, and useful to all.
The Accessibility for Ontarians Disabilities Act (AODA) passed in 2005, as a part of the Ontario Human Rights Code, imposes the same set of rules to ensure that all Ontarians can actively participate in all forms of Internet media, despite their disabilities. These bylaws and legislations also exist in different areas of the country, to protect the rights of every citizen.
However, even though it’s been passed and written down, some companies that offer web design services fail to meet these guidelines. By doing so, they are failing their fellow citizens and potential audiences as well as closing off access to an important group in the community.
If you’re an aspiring specialist in custom web design, a business owner, or own a web design agency, then you should understand the importance of web accessibility in today’s digital era.
4 Important Reasons for Accessible Content
Your website design should be accessible to all kinds of disabilities. Web accessibility allows you to:
- Comply with ethical and legal obligations
As stated in the AODA, it’s an ethical and legal obligation for all businesses to prioritize those who are differently abled. Companies or web design firms should put in extra effort to cater to their special needs. Making your website design more accessible and easier for them to navigate is part of that.
Private and public sectors, both internationally and nationally, alike are under these laws which is why you must adhere to these regulations during the web development process. Violating these laws, if found guilty, could lead to penalties and compensation for those affected, which could cost your company in the long run. In short, it’s best that in the early stages of development, universal access is guaranteed.
- Save money
Websites that have been custom designed to be more accessible use cleaner coding methods. This equates to faster loading speeds, fewer element errors, and improved search ranking as search engine algorithms will view your website as more trustworthy when they crawl it.
As you redesign and reconstruct your site in the coming years, this clean coding method will benefit you as well, since it will require less maintenance cost.
- Provide a better experience for all users
Ensuring that your customers are getting the best engagement and handling from your company is the surefire way to gain their loyalty and patronage. One of the ways that you can achieve that is by following inclusive guidelines, which can allow you to deliver high-quality services to all customers despite their inabilities.
You can do this by using closed captions for those who have hearing disabilities, colour contrast ratio adjustments and font size adjustments for the visually impaired, an easier authentication process for people who have memory and mobility issues, and comprehensive content for those with learning difficulties. By applying these designs to your current website, you can improve the experience of both the average audience and the differently abled.
- Expand your audience reach
Making sure that your website content is accessible to all requires more time, effort, and consideration. By doing so, you are opening your content to a whole new audience and becoming an ally.
If you want to expand your audience reach, then this is the best way to do so. It will also highlight your company’s values of inclusivity, which customers appreciate greatly.
How to Make a Website WCAG Compliant
Numerous upgrades can be applied to your website to ensure that it’s user-friendly for everyone. Do the following:
- Make sure the website can be read by screen readers such as JAWS
Screen readers allow users to go from one element of a website to another through keystrokes. Rather than actually reading what is on the screen, a screen reader interacts with the code. For great user experience, the website must make use of “standard controls”. This means that the code must contain attributes known as ARIA that will “translate” the website elements to the screen reader.
- Increase the sizes
Increasing font sizes will greatly help people with visual impairment. Making the sizes of icons and logos bigger will also make it easier for them to understand your content. You may put in an actual command button for this or use the built-in screen zoom-in feature.
- Make it keyboard-friendly
Everything on your website should be keyboard-friendly. This means that even if a person has physical limitations that prevent them from using a mouse, they should still be able to navigate through your site only using the keyboard.
- Create accessible multimedia
Multimedia content has gained popularity over the years due to its ability to stimulate multiple senses at once. Expert use of multimedia makes a website’s content more memorable and comprehensive.
However, for those who are unable to use certain senses, like hearing, using a standard format for your multimedia content will make it harder for them. You should include closed captions, text transcripts, and audio transcripts, to name a few.
- Include alt tags
Alt-tags or descriptions for images and content are similar to text captions. By using detailed tags, you are ensuring that your audience fully understands what is happening in the image or multimedia content, even if they can’t view it.
- Use WCAG 2.0 / AODA / ADA – Compliant Colours
To be WCAG 2.0 / AODA / ADA-compliant, you need to select colours that make the text easily readable and understood by anyone visiting the site. Colours need to provide maximum contrast between the content and background and have a ratio of 4.5:1 for text and interactive elements. Interactive elements (like links on hover or required field) should not only be indicated by colours but also be marked with an asterisk. Colour choice must also be friendly to the colour blind.
Complying with these laws will not only make your business accessible, but it will also make you a better citizen and proprietor. The best way to cater to your audience and become inclusive is to empathize with their circumstances.
Take the extra effort and ensure that your website is accessible to all. If you don’t, you’ll be excluding a part of the community and denying their basic rights to information and pushing away prospective customers.
If you need assistance from a website development comoany regarding WCAG-compliant website design and development, get in touch with Mouth Media in Toronto. We are more than happy to develop or re-design your current website to be web-accessible. Call us now at (416) 531-5443.