Web Accessibility Is Not Just for Disabled People!
According to today’s podcast guest, Joanne Pires, of eSSENTIAL Accessibility, 1 in 5 Americans self-identify as having a disability.
And that doesn’t even include the masses of people in their 40s and beyond who are struggling with “middle aged vision”, arthritis, and fading hearing but who don’t think of themselves as ‘disabled’.
So designing your websites and apps to be accessible to people with disabilities makes it more likely you’ll be able to sell to everybody!
Web Accessibility for Law & Profit
Apart from the financial benefits that come from more accessible websites, you should know that it’s also legally required in many places. For example:
- In the province of Ontario every company with 50 or more employees and all government organizations must have accessible websites.
- In Europe all websites run by public sector organizations must meet accessibility guidelines, and many countries have requirements for private sector companies too.
- In the United States, any organization selling to or partnering with the federal government must meet web accessibility criteria.
Wonder What’s Needed to Make Your Site Accessible?
There’s a great free testing tool called WAVE, at http://wave.webaim.org/. It’s kind of scary to use, because almost all of us will discover our sites have errors. (Guilty!)
One of the biggest barriers I’ve found to web accessibility is finding web designers who know and understand the guidelines and will make designs that comply.
I had to argue repeatedly with my designer even to have basic contrast in the font color versus the background, and I never did manage to get him to make all the needed changes to comply with the guidelines. I hope to do better on the next redesign.
It would help if all web design schools and programs taught web accessible design and user experience testing as required parts of their curriculum.
Sadly, most still do not.
So how do you choose a web designer who gets accessibility?
Pires advises asking:
- Have you built an accessible website? (Get them to show examples.)
- Do you know what the standards and regulations are in the jurisdictions we serve?
- Are you aware of WCAG 2.0?
Plan your site with accessibility in mind, right from the start.
Changes are much easier to make in the early stages than after they’ve been coded in.
Then, as your designer works, I’d suggest you keep running their designs through at tool like WAVE, and just keep pushing them to knock off the problems it identifies.
Cool Free Accessibility Tool For Navigating Websites
In the interview Pires mentioned a web accessibility app her company has designed to help people who struggle with current websites use them more easily. You can download it at https://www.essentialaccessibility.com/download-app/.
Upcoming Event & Discount for Frank Reactions Fans
I’ll be speaking at the Alberta Council of Technologies convention on Creating the New Alberta in Red Deer on November 26, 2016. Just for you, there’s a 20% discount if you register using the offer code “peopleshock”. Hope I’ll see you there!