What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to the design of websites which is easily reached, entered, or used for by people who experience disabilities.
Web accessibility also benefits people experiencing temporary disabilities such as slow internet connections, a broken hand or arm, etc.
Essentially, web accessibility means making your website reachable and usable for as many people as possible, and in this current digital age, providing such an experience has never been more important.
Why is Web Accessibility Important?
Web accessibility is important as the web and internet have become important parts of our lives and making sure the web is accessible allows people with disabilities to be able to have equal access to the important services/features the web provides, such as education, online shopping, recreation, health services and more.
Making your website accessible can also help make it more effective in reaching a wider audience, as it is now easier to navigate for people experiencing a disability. Not only that, but often what is good for accessibility is also good for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as search engines will often crawl your website in the same way a screen reader would.
Simple ways to make your website accessible
An alt tag is used on images to allow a description of the image to be output if the image can’t be displayed/seen. Making sure this alt-tag is as descriptive as possible will help screen readers to relay the information you are trying to portray.
Some users are unable to or don’t have access to a mouse, meaning their only way to navigate through your website is via a keyboard. Making sure your website is easy to navigate through using a keyboard will go a long way to helping make your site more accessible.
Making sure you have a short yet descriptive title tag on all pages will allow visitors to know what the page is about which is especially helpful for people using a screen reader.
You can find the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/
If you want to see how your website performs with a Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, see here: https://wave.webaim.org/
Another tool used for colour contrast checks can be found here: https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
To see how a screen reader works, you can find one here: https://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS
Web accessibility is becoming an important part of web design and should be thought of throughout the design and build process of any website. This will make sure your website can be easily used and accessed by anyone who wants to do so.