The importance of accessibility in web design

Envizn labs.
April 3, 2023
10 min
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The importance of accessibility in web design

Web design is not only about creating visually appealing and functional websites, but also about ensuring that they are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It is the practice of designing and developing websites that can be used by people with different needs, such as vision, hearing, motor, cognitive, or situational impairments.

Accessibility is not only a moral obligation, but also a legal requirement in many countries and regions. According to the WHO(World Health Organization), more than one billion people worldwide have some form of disability, and this number is expected to rise as the population ages. Moreover, accessibility benefits not only people with disabilities, but also people who use different devices, browsers, languages, or network conditions.

Some of the benefits of accessibility in web design are:

- Improved user experience: Accessible websites are easier to use and navigate for everyone, as they provide clear and consistent layouts, readable fonts and colors, meaningful labels and instructions, keyboard and touch support, captions and transcripts for audio and video content, and alternative text for images and icons.

- Increased reach and engagement: Accessible websites can reach a wider and more diverse audience, as they cater to the needs and preferences of different users. This can lead to more traffic, conversions, retention, and loyalty. Additionally, accessible websites can improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of a website, as they follow the best practices of web standards and semantics.

- Reduced risk and cost: Accessible websites can reduce the risk of legal complaints and lawsuits from users who encounter barriers or discrimination when accessing a website. This can save time, money, and reputation for the website owners and developers. Furthermore, accessible websites can lower the maintenance and development costs, as they are easier to update and test across different platforms and devices.

How to achieve accessibility in web design:

To achieve accessibility in web design, there are some guidelines and principles that can help. One of the most widely used resources is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The WCAG are organized into four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each principle has a number of guidelines and success criteria that can be tested and evaluated.

Some of the examples of applying the WCAG principles are:

-Perceivable: Ensure that all information and user interface components are presented in ways that can be perceived by different senses. For example, provide text alternatives for non-text content, such as images, audio, video, charts, diagrams, etc. Provide captions and transcripts for audio and video content. Use sufficient contrast between text and background colors. Use relative units for font sizes and layouts. Avoid using color alone to convey information or indicate actions.

-Operable: Ensure that all functionality and navigation are available through different modes of input and output. For example, make all interactive elements reachable by keyboard or touch. Provide clear and consistent navigation menus and links. Provide skip links to bypass repetitive content. Provide multiple ways to find content within a website. Avoid using elements that can cause seizures or physical reactions, such as flashing or moving content.

-Understandable: Ensure that all information and user interface components are clear and easy to comprehend. For example, use simple and concise language and terminology. Provide labels and instructions for forms and inputs. Provide feed back and error messages when user actions are required or performed. Use consistent and predictable design patterns and behaviors. Provide mechanisms to change or adjust the language, layout, or appearance of the website.

- Robust : Ensure that all content and functionality are compatible with current and future technologies and devices. For example, use valid HTML5 code and follow web standards and best practices. Use semantic markup to convey the structure and meaning of the content. Use ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes to enhance the accessibility of dynamic web components. Test the website with different browsers, devices, screen sizes, screen readers, keyboards, etc.

End note:

Accessibility is not only a technical issue but also a design issue that requires empathy, creativity, and collaboration. By following the guidelines and principles of accessibility, web designers and developers can create websites that are not only beautiful and useful, but also inclusive and respectful of everyone's needs and rights.

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