Accessibility has gotten a recent boost in exposure as companies and websites have faced legal action for not having sites or apps that support broader accessibility for their users.
Most of the companies affected have sites/apps used by people with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments and haven't taken these audiences into account when designing and building their site, making important services or information unavailable to the users.
While there is potential for a lawsuit if your site isn't accessible, it doesn't mean you need to panic, but it does mean you need to pay appropriate attention and take necessary steps. Some of the urgency depends on your business and size of your audience, too. Government service websites or a bank's website have a greater accessibility need for a much broader audience than say, the marketing site for a small local floral business.
But, if you haven't done so already, you will protect your business, and provide a better experience for all users, by taking the steps to ensure equal access and usability for people of all abilities.
How do I know if my website has accessibility issues?
W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 and 2.1) and supplies three distinct levels of testable success criteria to determine conformance to WCAG. These are levels A, AA, and AAA, with AAA being the highest conformance level.
Several resources are available at minimal or no cost to run a quick evaluation on the accessibility of your website. These can help you get started by finding prominent issues, and then you can decide what action to take.
Additionally, Acumium is well-versed in accessibility, its requirements, and how it applies to various businesses and services, and can assist in a broad range of functions.
What level of accessibility do I need to accommodate?
An important mindset to adopt is that accessibility isn't optional. All websites should accommodate accessibility in some capacity, using WCAG 2.1 as a guideline and Level A conformance at a minimum. Generally, ecommerce and service websites should strive for Level AA conformance, as accessible solutions improve overall UX and are better for everyone, not just those who may have impairments.
Level AAA conformance is simply not realistic for many sites to achieve across the entirety of the digital experience, as there will almost always be some content or integrations which make it impossible to satisfy all success criteria. More important is to mindfully apply the highest level of compliance possible to best address the needs of the widest range of users.
These conformance levels provide guidelines and success criteria, but approaching accessibility with a targeted mindset on your audience and their needs ensures you are focusing on the proper areas to set you up more efficiently for success. Accessibility can cover such a wide range of site considerations, from look and feel to functionality, it is important to know who your users are and what, if any, special needs they may have.
Things to consider:
- What percentage of your users have impairments with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive abilities?
- What assistance tools/devices are used to navigate websites and access information? E.g., screen readers, alternative keyboards, eye-tracking software, transcripts, others
- Do you have audio or video content which someone with hearing or cognitive impairments would benefit from captioning or a transcript?
If you are not able to answer these questions yourself, Acumium can help you better understand your users and their needs. One of the first tools we bring to these conversations is a specialized accessibility assessment that provides an actionable roadmap of your path to increased accessibility for all users.
We're here to help. Reach out with any questions you have or if you would like to talk about an accessibility assessment of your website or application.