A lack of website accessibility can be a barrier for people with disabilities. According to research, over 19.9 million people have a disability that impairs their usage of the keyboard and mouse. At the same time, roughly 97% of the top 1 million websites do not have accessibility options for people with disabilities.
Websites that are inaccessible to people with disabilities are not compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, hence are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Websites that do not provide accessibility features to their users may also be violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires equal access for disabled individuals in any federally funded program.
In this article, we will take a closer look at why 6 out of 10 websites listed on popular search engines are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Common Accessibility Issues In Websites
The most common accessibility issue in websites is the use of color contrast. Colors should contrast with each other, but they should also be accessible to people with visual impairments. Furthermore, the colors and animations chosen on websites have also been known to elevate the symptoms of epilepsy in photosensitive adults.
Another common issue is the lack of descriptive alt text on images or videos, as these images and videos may not always be accessible to people with cognitive impairments or motor issues.
Some other issues are not as common but still affect some people. These include:
- Auditory impairments caused by volume changes
- Flashing lights on websites may lead to epileptic seizures
- Motor issues that may prevent the use of a mouse and keyboards
- Cognitive impairments may lead to poor understanding and translation of website components.
- Failure to allow a responsive design for large and bolded text and more.
All these issues may not seem to make that big of a difference for people living normal lives, but for those struggling with disabilities, it may render the website completely inaccessible.
How Websites Can Improve Accessibility for People With Disabilities
Websites should be accessible to everyone. This includes people with disabilities as well. As these sites make up the most crucial part of the web, they need to take the disabled into account as well during the design phase.
Provide Incentives to Improve Accessibility
One of the biggest reasons why sites aren’t designed with the disabled in mind is the lack of incentives therein. Search engines are incentivizing the provision of information via websites, better designs, and a more streamlined sense of authority.
Websites that follow these tips and other SEO (Search Engine Optimization) requirements are rewarded by being ranked higher on the search page, hence getting more views.
This shows how prominent a role these search engines can play in making websites more accessible for the disabled. Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and others can implement an algorithm that ranks disabled-accessible websites higher, hence forcing the rest to implement better measures as well.
Better Perceptibility, Operability, & Understandability
Web standards can also require websites to focus on the better perceptibility of the website regardless of their disability. This includes making sure that the site is operable – meaning that it can be navigated without difficulty and provides a good user experience.
Websites should also be understandable – meaning that they are written in such a way as to make sense to all readers. The font itself should also be scalable, hence allowing for better visuals for those with specific impairments. This can reduce the chances of misconception by people suffering from dyslexia as well.
Furthermore, websites can integrate a “grayscale” or “lowlight” mode to decrease flashing lights and colors. This, in turn, will reduce the instances of epileptic seizures when browsing websites.
Compatibility refers to how well websites work on different devices and browsers, so they need to work on low-bandwidth connections and screen readers as well. This will require the websites to be designed according to disabled-specific tools as well. This also means being available in more than one language and having text size options for those who have trouble reading small print.
Overlays & Guidelines
In order to make websites accessible to all users, website owners can also use website overlays and compliance guides such as WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0). This is an international standard for web accessibility guidelines and is updated every three years.
But what are web page overlays? Website overlays can help the disabled navigate the website with ease without obstructing the user’s experience. Some common examples of overlays include:
- Popup ads
- Opt-in boxes
- Assistive buttons
- Breadcrumbs, and more.
If a website is not compatible with different browsers and devices, then it is not accessible to everyone. There are many types of disabilities that affect people’s ability to use the internet. We need to make sure that our websites are accessible to all users.
It is important to note that websites lose their purpose if they aren’t accessible to everyone, and this includes the disabled as well. Websites should be compliant with different standards and regulations so they can be accessed by everyone. This includes making sure that the website has good compatibility with different browsers and devices, as well as accessibility for people with disabilities.