In this episode of Website Success, host Chrissy Rey breaks down the essentials of website accessibility. Learn why it’s not just a ‘nice-to-have’ but a legal must-have. Chrissy also shares practical tips and resources to help you make your website more inclusive. Whether you’re a developer, designer, or website owner, this episode is your guide to making the web a place for everyone. Tune in and take the first step toward a more accessible online world!
Listen to the Episode
In this episode, Chrissy Rey takes you through the ins and outs of website accessibility. Learn why it’s not just a “nice-to-have,” but a legal and ethical necessity, and how you can start making your website more accessible today.
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 0:36 – What is Website Accessibility?
- 0:56 – Legal Requirements and ADA Compliance
- 2:04 – Why Accessibility Matters
- 2:41 – Where to Start: W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
- 3:04 – Components of Web Accessibility
- 4:26 – Understanding WCAG Principles
- 5:13 – Operable User Interface and Navigation
- 5:34 – Understandable Information and User Interface
- 5:47 – Robust Content and Reliable Interpretation
- 6:08 – WCAG Levels and Guidelines
- 7:32 – Section 508 for Federal Websites
- 8:21 – Free Course on Web Accessibility
- 8:50 – Starting Small: Quick Tips
- 9:10 – Tools for Testing Accessibility
- 10:10 – Conclusion and Wrap-up
- Website accessibility is crucial for inclusivity and is a legal requirement under the ADA.
- Making your website accessible can expand your audience and improve your brand’s reputation.
- W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative is a great starting point for resources.
- WCAG guidelines are guided by four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
- Section 508 is a set of requirements that federal websites must follow.
- Testing tools like WebAIM and WAVE can help you evaluate your website’s accessibility.
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
- WebAIM Color Contrast Checker
- WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
- W3Cx: Introduction to Web Accessibility Course on edX
Hey everyone, welcome back to Website Success! I’m your host, Chrissy Rey, and today we’re diving into website accessibility. This is a super important topic, so make sure you pay attention! Let’s get into it!
First off, what is website accessibility? It’s the practice of designing and developing websites that are inclusive for everyone. We’re talking about people with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.
And guess what? It’s not just a nice-to-have; it’s a legal requirement in many parts of the world. If you’re in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been interpreted to apply to websites. In 2022, more than 3,000 lawsuits were filed in federal court alleging that plaintiffs with a disability could not use websites because they were either not designed to be accessible or they didn’t work with assistive technologies. While you might think those lawsuits are only for the big players, like Target who settled a class-action lawsuit for $6 million in 2018 because their website wasn’t usable by blind people, you would be wrong. In 2023, 77% of ADA lawsuits were filed against organizations with under $25 million in revenue. So, if you’re not compliant, you’re opening yourself up to potential legal issues and hefty fines or settlements.
Now, why should you care? Well, aside from the legal aspect, making your website accessible can actually expand your audience. An estimated 15- 25% of the US population lives with some form of disability. Plus implementing accessibility guidelines can help improve your brand’s reputation. You’re basically sending out a message that says, “Hey, I value all of my users, and I want to give everyone the best experience possible.”
So where should you start? I recommend visiting the World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initative website at w3.org/WAI. They have some great introductory materials, including videos, that will help you get started.
Several different components of web development and interaction need to work together for a website to be accessible to people with disabilities. Those components include the:
- Content such as the text, images, sounds, code, and markup
- Web browsers, media players, and other “user agents”
- Assistive technology like screen readers and alternative keyboards
- Users’ knowledge and experiences
- Developers, designers, coders, and others who create the content
- Authoring tools for creating websites
- And evaluation tools like HTML validators, CSS validators, and web accessibility evaluators
W3C created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, guided by four principles. Let’s break these principles.
- Perceivable Information and User Interface: This means all your content should be presented in a way that everyone can perceive. Simple things like providing text alternatives for images and using descriptive link text can make a big difference.
- Operable User Interface and Navigation: This is all about making sure that everyone can operate your website. Keyboard access and clear navigation are key here.
- Understandable Information and User Interface: Your website should be easy to understand. Use clear language, provide instructions, and keep your content organized.
- Robust Content and Reliable Interpretation: Your website should work well with a variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. Stick to standard markup and programming languages to make this happen.
WCAG comes in 3 levels, from A to AAA, and has guidelines that cover all of the fundamental principles. Some of the guidelines include:
- Providing alternative text for all non-text content, such as images and videos.
- Using clear and simple language that is easy to understand.
- Ensuring that all functionality is available from a keyboard.
- Using color contrast that is easy to read for people with visual impairments.
- Providing captions and transcripts for all audio and video content.
- Ensuring that all content is easily navigable.
If you’re in the US, and you’re running a federal website, you also need to know about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 requires that all electronic and information technology (EIT) used by the federal government is accessible to people with disabilities. It covers many of the same standards as WCAG. While WCAG is a set of guidelines that the average website owner should follow, Section 508 is a set of requirements that federal websites must follow.
If you’re ready to dive deeper, there’s a fantastic free course from W3C on EdX called “W3Cx: Introduction to Web Accessibility.” It’s about 20 hours and will give you a comprehensive understanding of the topic. But hey, you don’t have to go all-in right away. Start small. Use alt text for your images, make sure your site is navigable by keyboard, and check your color contrast.
How can you check your work to make sure your website is accessible? You can use tools like the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to make sure the colors you’re using for the background and text have enough contrast. You can also use a tool like the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool for more in-depth testing. It’s available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Automated tools are great, but nothing beats real user testing. Get feedback from people with disabilities to understand how you can improve.
To wrap it up, website accessibility is not just a checkbox you tick off; it’s a fundamental aspect of good web design and development. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for business. So, let’s make the web a place for everyone, shall we?
That’s it for today’s episode. I’m Chrissy Rey, and this is Website Success. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for more awesome content!