If you’re not already aware, website accessibility is the ability for users of all abilities to read and interact with your website. Not everyone has good eyesight, fine motorskills, or other abilities one may take for granted being in the majority. Luckily, there’s a lot we can do to include more people with disabilities in accessing your website. Just as you might install a wheelchair ramp beside the stairs to your retail store, there are things we can do for your website to increase its accesibility.
Accessibility on the web has always been important. Not everyone has the same abilities to digest and access your website so doing as much as you can to allow the broadest access possible to your website is in everyone’s interest. But increasing and pleasing your audience isn’t the only reason you should be paying attention to accessibility.
The techniques involved in making a website accessible to real users, also make it more accessible to machines. Machines like Google’s search bots that try to read and interpret your website for inclusion in its search results. So increasing your website accessibility can also increase your search engine traffic. It’s a really nice 2 for 1 deal.
Just as there are laws for discriminating against disabilities in every day life of many countries, these same laws are being extended to the online world. For example, we are a Canadian company and Bill C-81 in Canada can impose up to a $25,000 fine for websites that don’t comply with the WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards. Other laws in the EU and other territories are coming soon too, so no matter where you are you’ll want to be ahead of the curve in providing proper accessilibility to the citizens of your country.
Solutions to Website Accessility
There are a few solutions to making your website more accessibible. Some of them are shortcuts that you’ll want to avoid.
Automated Doesn’t work
There are automated and AI driven tools that claim to fix the issue but may actually make it worse.
Human Driven Accessibility Improvements
There’s not yet a good replacement for a real human developer working at the level of your code. We navigate your web page with an actual screen reader and make sure we can consume it and have access to the features your other users have. In the case where it’s not possible to provide a reasonable work around to make a feature accessible, we at the very least make note of the efforts made on your accessibility statement page.
Google Lighthouse Accessiblity
There are several tools that will grade the accessibility of your website and indicate the things you may need to improve. Similarly to our Google pagespeed optimization, Google also offers an accessibility grading tool. As part of our service, we will grade your site every month and ensure it’s over 90.
Why Not 100?
While a score of 100 is definitely achievable, it’s in our experience that this level of accessibility will interfere with business goals such as the brand visuals. If the client insists on a score of 100, a more customized and holistic approach may be discussed.
A Best Effort is Shown
We must be aware that we can never make a website completely accessible to every human on earth, it’s simply not realistic. The important thing, and what is judged by many of the overseeing institutions, is that an active effort is being made. That’s why we include the following two measures:
Maintain an “Accessibility Statement” page
We will include a properly formatted statement page and maintain the history of any improvements on it from month to month.
Include a Contact Form for Accessibility Improvements
On this page will be included a form for your users to request any other accessibility improvements that could be made. Our team will be CC’d on the recipient address and discuss the inclusion of any user submitted requests on the website with you.
Accessibility is attained on a site-wide basis, however every site has a wide variance in the number of pages. Therefore, we can’t offer a one size fits all solution. The highest trafficked page (usually the homepage) should be chosen as a starting point. This often leads to scores going up on other pages as well due to improvements on the chosen page having globally overlapping components.
In the case that other specific URLs need to be tested and maintained, an additional cost of 75$/page is added.