At least one billion people in the world have some form of disability. So, it’s now more important than ever to ensure your digital products and services are accessible.
What is digital accessibility?
Whether adapting a website or starting afresh, it’s crucial that all users can easily interact with them.
Digital design is as important as creating accessible physical spaces for disabled people. Like installing ramps for wheelchair users or adding braille to packaging, your online platforms also need to be inclusive.
This includes developing accessible websites, apps, and documents for various disabilities, including:
For example, people may need to:
- Have content read out to them using a screen reader.
- Rely on captions on videos to understand the content.
- Use speech to control a site, as they struggle to use a mouse.
- Have clear and consistent layouts, with content written in user-friendly language.
What’s the ultimate goal of digital accessibility? It’s that everyone, no matter what device or software they use, can interact with your content in the same way that someone who doesn’t have a disability would.
How to create accessible platforms
There is a set of standards named the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are essential for content creators, designers, and web developers to adhere to.
Primarily these guidelines are organised around the POUR principles of web accessibility. Making sure that your site is:
- Perceivable: Users need to be able to recognise and use your platforms with the senses that are available to them, such as through sight, hearing, or touch.
- Operable: Your site needs to function and operate with ease, no matter what form of technology they use.
- Understandable: It’s crucial that your visitors can read and process the content you provide and understand how services work.
- Robust: Your platform needs to work with a range of different technologies. This includes varying browsers, devices, and software.
Benefits that inclusive websites provide to organisations
Accessible platforms provide an array of benefits beyond their useability for people with disabilities. You’ll also:
Improve the user experience for all site visitors
Designing with accessibility at the forefront actually enhances useability for all users and provides an inclusive and welcoming platform. This is due to having:
- Clear and user-friendly content.
- A streamlined navigation.
- Available alternative formats to suit all needs.
- Responsive web pages across varying screen types and devices.
By doing so, you’ll have the ability to reach a greater audience and gain more user engagement. Putting inclusiveness at the heart of your organisation shows that you care for your disabled community, and this will reflect positively on your organisation’s reputation.
In turn, this will also mean that you’ll begin to see an increase in your site’s traffic.
Save money from accessible design
A website that is designed to be accessible from the start will save you money in the long run. This is due to not being able to avoid retrofits or redesigns along the way.
To keep up with accessibility considerations down the line, you’ll only need to make minor modifications. By deciding to redesign or modernise your site, you’ll be building it on solid, accessible foundations. Basically, you’ll be future-proofing your website.
Avoid complications due to inaccessibility
Nowadays, there are legal implications if you aren’t providing an inclusive service. Many large, well-known organisations have already faced lawsuits, and this was due to their websites not complying with the Equality Act or Public Sector Legislation.
Not only would you face a hefty fine, but it will also tarnish your organisation’s reputation.
Enhance Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Who doesn’t want to improve their SEO and rank higher on internet search results? You’ll be pleased to know that by implementing digital accessibility search engines will favour your website.
This is due to incorporating items such as:
- Alternative text descriptions on imagery.
- Strong taxonomy and concise navigation.
- Descriptive hyperlinks.
- Closed captions on videos.
- Ease of use for keyboard-only users.
Making it simpler for search engines to crawl through your site and understand your content and site’s structure.
All-in-all, building a strong digital accessibility business case to aid both your organisation and your users.
A helping hand for your accessibility journey
If you need help bridging the digital divide, it’s a good idea to work with experts, such as HeX Productions, who can assist you on your accessibility journey. Digital accessibility consultants can support you with accessible website design and development, website testing, staff training and ongoing support to ensure your digital properties remain compliant.