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What Is Website Accessibility?
Website Accessibility (and Accessibility in general) is many things to many people…
- For some, it’s the tools and technologies designed to allow disabled people to have equal and easy access to the internet – regardless of any barriers they might face. (These barriers could be auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech or visual.)
- For others, it’s an overlay that helps to augment a website – meaning content can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
- Sadly, to some, it’s an optional inconvenience that takes time and money and isn’t needed – (unless it’s specified by a client, that is!).
♿ But for me and the 13.9 million disabled people in the UK* –
Web Accessibility is a pipe dream and something that just might not happen.
Because, right now, in 2020,
up to 90% of the web is inaccessible.
IMAGINE IF YOU COULD ONLY USE 1 IN 10 OF YOUR FAVOURITE WEBSITES?
And let’s not forget Social Media!
If you take just one thing away from this article, I want it to be that
Web Accessibility and UX Design
is never a one-and-done exercise.
It should become as much a part of your business or organisation as the dreaded GDPR because…
…you have a legal duty
to make reasonable adjustments
and be as accessible as possible.
But isn’t it expensive?
THE BAD NEWS… I can’t (and won’t) pretend that a brand-new website from a reputable and bespoke agency will be cheap. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you how expensive it can be to have someone design, create, host and deliver a bespoke website – but if you do – then yes, it can be costly!
THE GOOD NEWS…you can do A LOT with your existing website and content to help make it more accessible and improve the user experience.
What Is User Experience (UX) Design?
UX covers all aspects of the end-users interaction with your company, website, services, apps and any other digital products.
It isn’t about what you think your customers/audience need – it’s about meeting and exceeding needs without a fuss – and making it as simple as possible.
Good design does this.
Poorly researched, inaccessible or inadequate UX/design is just plain lazy design.
If people can enjoy your service and it meets the needs of as many people as possible – it’s a UX winner!
What about User Testing?
It’s good practice to do user testing before committing to new functions, designs, features or elements.
And what better way to meet the needs of your would-be customers than to involve them in testing?
This vital feedback and data can help you improve the UX Journey for ALL customers.
Regardless of your industry, high-quality user experience can only come about by applying this thinking across as many areas as possible. From marketing to UI – if people interact with it, you want their experiences to be as positive as possible.
But What About Disabled People?
A common misconception about accessibility, in general, is that it’s a lot of effort, time and money for a reasonably small potential market.
However, this is 20% of the population we’re talking about – so it’s important not to forget about us! Especially when we have a combined spending power of around £279 billion annually.
If the user experience on your website is so terrible that a blind person can’t even find your service or product, imagine how quickly they’ll find a more accessible competitor?!
Accessibility in Action: Your Brand-New App
If you want to make a useful application, you’ll want to consider your target audience and their UX.
But now, let’s add disability into the mix!
Your UX focus group includes a person, Jess, with only one arm.
This prompts you to think about how people with one arm, no arms, limited mobility, etc., might find using your app challenging?
You iterate and slowly begin to refine and improve.
The app becomes more natural and simpler to use with one hand.
All because of the one disabled person in your focus group.
It’s a made-up scenario – but the results would be an app and UX that is much more intuitive and easier for a whole range of people!
By thinking of accessibility you’ve been able to help the following groups of people use your app:
- Permanently Disabled People – this group includes people like me (and the fictional one-armed person from earlier) – who have a permanent condition and, in this example, will find it challenging to use an application that requires two hands or a lot of coordination to operate.
- Temporarily Disabled People – this group is anyone who’s sprained their wrist, broken an arm, a collarbone or just thinks they look good in a sling – people who temporarily can only use one hand.
We’re no longer talking about disabled people, are we? This is a considerable proportion of your potential client/customer base. If people with one arm can’t use your app, then people in a cast can’t either.
- Situationally Disabled People – this group is officially every single customer or user! They will statistically have the use of all their limbs, but for just a few short moments, they won’t have access to both hands to use your brand-new app because…
- they’re holding a coffee
- carrying shopping / a briefcase
- have a hand in their pocket
- holding a baby
This is everyone and anyone! From one chance encounter in User Testing, we’ve been able to improve the User Experience for absolutely everyone.
Still, think accessibility is only about Disabled people?
I hope not.
So, now you know how important accessibility is, here are
4 Easy Ways to Make Your Website More Accessible…
1. Educate Yourself!
Read Up or Refresh Yourself on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) HERE ➡ https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
This can get pretty complicated for end-users – and if you create websites, hopefully, it’s something that’s already on your radar. But a little awareness of how it should be done is never a bad thing, right? And it might even give you something to ask about the next time you meet with your web designer!
2. Use an Overlay!
Right now, in the North East, there is a team looking to address the issue of Web Accessibility – their solution is to offer an overlay that helps Disabled Web Users view content in the most suitable way for them. (Take a look here for more info ➡ https://reciteme.com/)
Overlay solutions like ReciteMe are best used to help improve the accessibility of your current site – and will give you a lot to think about for your next overhaul or redesign but they can’t do everything for you (yet!).
3. Reach Out / Follow / Talk to Accessibility Consultants
There is a significant movement on the internet – it’s called the A11y Project (or #a11y).
Basically, it’s a community of people just like me with a passion for Web Accessibility, doing things the right way and making web accessibility easier.
You’ll find us on Twitter tweeting away about best practices and spreading awareness of the latest and greatest ARIA or addon.
You can find out more here ➡ https://a11yproject.com/
4. Find out exactly how accessible your website is!
If you prefer something more bespoke and a little closer to home in the North East – I’m always up for a coffee and more than happy to help with your accessibility questions!
Want to know how accessible your website is? No problem. I offer a Digital Accessibility Audit to help you identify any potential accessibility issues and advise you on how to fix them as efficiently as possible. Let’s get started on your Website Accessibility Journey today!
Find out more here ➡ https://www.deanfrankreynolds.co.uk/services/digital-audits/