Web accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites and web applications to be inclusive and usable by all individuals, including those with disabilities. This includes considerations for people with visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, and other impairments.
Web accessibility ensures that everyone has equal access to information and services online. 22% of people have some type of disability in the UK, this is comparable to people with brown eyes in the UK which is also 22%. Accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can navigate and interact with websites and web applications just as easily as those without disabilities.
What is WCAG?
WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a set of internationally recognised guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Think of WCAG as a set of technical standards. You expect a car to meet legal requirements, to be tested, to be safe. If you purchase a new oven you expect it to meet standards for quality. It’s the same with websites.
These guidelines outline the best practices for creating web content that is accessible to all users, regardless of disabilities. WCAG is divided into four core principles, often referred to as POUR:
Content should be presented in a way that users can perceive it through different senses, such as sight and hearing.
Users should be able to navigate and interact with the content using a variety of input methods, such as a keyboard or screen reader.
Content should be clear and easy to understand, with predictable navigation and consistent user interface elements.
Content should be compatible with a wide range of assistive technologies and future-proofed against evolving web standards.
Why does digital accessibility matter?
Digital accessibility promotes inclusivity by ensuring that all users, regardless of disabilities, can access and interact with your content and services. This inclusivity is not only ethically responsible but also legally required in many markets.
Creating accessible websites expands your potential audience. It opens up your website to individuals with disabilities who may become loyal users or customers.
Many countries and regions have established laws and regulations that mandate web accessibility. By not meeting standards a website may be discriminating against disabled people. Failure to comply can result in legal consequences and financial penalties.
Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility can boost your brand’s reputation and social responsibility image, potentially attracting more customers and partners.
Search engines favor accessible websites because they provide a better user experience. This can lead to improved search engine rankings and increased organic traffic.
Accessibility provides a competitive edge in markets by reaching a broader audience.