An Introduction to Web Accessibility and Why It Matters
Exploring the Importance of Web Accessibility for Inclusive Digital Experiences
4 min read
Table of contents
- The Digital Divide and the Importance of Web Accessibility
- The History, Laws, and Policies Governing Web Accessibility
- Why Accessibility Matters, Beyond the Legal Requirements
- How to Be an Inclusive Designer
- Anyone can create a more inclusive web experience by learning about and implementing basic accessibility practices.
The web is a powerful tool. It can share information, connect people, and foster understanding. However, accessibility issues in web design can break millions of users who rely on assistive technologies to access digital experiences. This article will explore what web accessibility means and why it's essential for anyone creating or using websites today.
The Digital Divide and the Importance of Web Accessibility
The web is where everyone can come together, but unfortunately, not all can. Some digital users may face challenges accessing information online due to disability or impairment.
Accessibility has become more critical than ever because of the digital divide—the gap between those with and without technology. The gap widens when you factor in new platforms like voice assistants and smart home devices that require an internet connection to function correctly. They won't work if you can't navigate these devices through your browser or mobile app.
The History, Laws, and Policies Governing Web Accessibility
If you're new to web accessibility, it can be challenging to understand why this topic matters. Here are some reasons:
The history of web accessibility is one of legal and technological innovation. In the late 1990s, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released its first guidelines for making websites accessible to people with disabilities. Since then, W3C has added more guidelines for mobile and responsive design and cognitive impairments. Many governments worldwide have adopted these guidelines as official policies on how public websites should be built to include all users.
WCAG 2 is a set of technical recommendations that explain how developers can build websites that meet accessibility standards set forth by Section 508 (a law passed in 1998), ADA (a federal civil rights law), and other international laws around inclusive design practices like universal design (UD).
WCAG 2 consists of 14 guidelines or rules intended for use across multiple devices such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets; all levels from novice users up through advanced users; all types including desktop applications like word processing software; embedded technologies such as video players built into web pages themselves rather than being downloaded separately first before viewing content online--and even those used at home within homes themselves!
Why Accessibility Matters, Beyond the Legal Requirements
Beyond the legal requirements, accessibility is a business issue. It's a social issue. It's an ethical issue, a moral issue, and an environmental one. It's all of these things at once: because accessible sites can be more expensive to build, they're less likely to be built in the first place; because they're less likely to be built in the first place, they make money less efficiently than accessible sites do; because they make money less efficiently than accessible websites do they often fail their users by not being able to serve them well (for example by having slow load times).
How to Be an Inclusive Designer
Being inclusive is in your best interest. YoYou'lle can reach a wider audience, improve the user experience for everyone, and increase your chances of getting clients and earning money.
Many tools can help you create accessible websites and make them more usable for people with disabilities. Here's a quick list:
Use a grid system so that all elements on the page have a consistent structure and hierarchy. This will make it easier for users with dyslexia or other reading difficulties to scan through pages quickly while still getting an overview of what they're looking at.
Use tools like WebAIM Color Contrast Checker or Lea VeVerou'sontrast Ratio Calculator to make sure you have good contrast between text and background color.
Test your site with NVDA Screen Reader Emulator or VoiceOver on macOS.
Use Google Chrome Accessibility Developer Tools (ADT) Inspector tab in the dev tools panel.
Anyone can create a more inclusive web experience by learning about and implementing basic accessibility practices.
The web is a global network of information, and the internet is an integral part of our daily lives. Many people have little choice but to use a computer or mobile device to access it. Unfortunately, this isn't always easy for everyone—some people face physical challenges that make it difficult or impossible to use these devices.
Fortunately, there are ways you can make your website more accessible without breaking the bank. Implementing even one or two simple accessibility features will likely improve your user experience for all users—including those who aren't disabled!
As a designer and developer, you have the power to create experiences for all kinds of people—and that's why web accessibility is so important. ItIt'sot just about legal requirements anymore; it's about creating genuinely inclusive experiences. If you want to get started with accessibility in your projects, plenty of resources are available to help you. No matter where you start or your expertise level, making your site more accessible will always be worth it!