What Is Web Accessibility

What do you need to know?

Web accessibility is the assurance that the internet is usable for everyone, including those with disabilities that would otherwise impair them from going online or contributing content of their own. This is a requirement for all web developers under Article 9 under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that access to all information and communications technologies are a basic human right, including the Web.

There is a wide range conditions that fall under the category of a disability, however the most common in regard to accessing the web are vision, hearing, motor skills, seizures and cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia.

How Web Accessibility is determined:

Content is deemed up to standard by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Since the organization’s formation in 1996, these guidelines have undergone multiple revisions. The more comprehensive and optimal WCAG 2 was published on December 11, 2008 and is organized under 4 major principles with specific instructions for each.

Web Content must be:

Perceivable:

  • To ensure web accessibility, components and information must be presented to users in ways they can perceive. Content must be presentable in a variety of different ways without losing information or structure. This includes text alternatives for non-text content and modifications for easy viewability such as separating foreground from background.

Operable:

  • User interface components and navigation must be operable. Under these requirements, all web functions must available from the keyboard, users must have adequate time to read and use content without being interrupted or cut off and websites must be easily navigable with mandatory shortcuts. It also specifies that content cannot be designed in any way that is known to cause seizures.

Understandable:

  • Text content must readable and comprehensible. Web pages must also appear and function in predictable ways and provide suggestions and guidance to help users correct mistakes.

Robust:

  • Content must be highly compatible so that it can be easily interpreted by a wide array of user agents. This refers mainly to assistive technologies such as screen readers.    

The major requirements of Web Accessibility:

  • Audio Transcriptions: For individuals with hearing impairments that make them unable to hear videos or audio files, text transcripts must be provided. There are several transcription services websites can output text transcripts in a variety of formats.
  • Alternative Text for Images: Web Images should have a text description in the markup code that properly communicates what the image is for those with visual disabilities.
  • Keyboard compatibility: All web functions must be accomplishable through the keyboard so that users unable to operate a mouse can still access all content.
  • Color correction: The design and layout of a webpage must have a color scheme that contrasts well and ensures that text stands out against the background. The easiest way to accomplish this is having a dark color for the text coupled with a significantly lighter background.
  • Structure: Web pages should be structured in a way that is presentable, making content understandable and helping it flow well. Each separate field should have a label and there should be one major header at the top of the page that summarizes the page in its entirety.

 

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