As a web developer, I’ve noticed a common misunderstanding about what constitutes an accessible website. In this post, I aim to clear up some confusion and share my findings from my personal research on the topic.
A website is considered accessible when it can be used by anyone, regardless of their disability or disadvantage. Despite the increasing demand for accessible websites, clients often ask for accessibility without a clear understanding of what they want. This can lead to problems later in the project when the website is almost complete, and the client realizes they need it to be accessible.
Despite the increasing demand for accessible websites, clients often ask for accessibility without a clear understanding of what they want.
To avoid such scenarios, it’s essential to understand the definition of an accessible website and what it entails. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 is relevant, and a website must meet level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). The website must also be compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers and speech recognition tools, and user research should include individuals with disabilities.
While accessibility statements are important, they are meaningless if the website isn’t actually accessible. Clients may not be aware of the effort involved in making a website accessible, and they may be hesitant to pay for the necessary development costs.
However, some of the requirements of accessibility compliance may already be part of a developer’s work, and accessibility should be considered as an essential aspect of the website’s design and development. When building an accessible website, it’s crucial to consider the needs of different users, including those with disabilities and disadvantages.
Disadvantages that can affect website accessibility include a lack of access to the latest devices and software, difficulty using a mouse or keyboard, slow internet or network, low digital skills, and language barriers. On the other hand, disabilities that can impact website accessibility include visual impairment, loss of limb, cognitive impairment, hearing problems, motor or dexterity impairment.
The website should be tested on various devices, and assistive technologies such as screen readers and magnifiers should be used to ensure compatibility. Other technologies, such as keyboard shortcuts, custom mice and keyboards, predictive text, and spell checkers, can also be used to make the website more accessible.
Building an accessible website involves more than just following compliance standards. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the needs of different users and the various tools and technologies that can be used to accommodate their needs. As developers, we have a responsibility to make our websites accessible to everyone and provide equal opportunities for all users to access and use the content.