One thing that separates the digital platform from any conventional media is its accessibility. No matter where you live, whenever you want, you can access a website owned by another person who lives in a different part of the world. However, the web’s accessibility isn’t only about that. Yes, web exists because it can remove certain barriers to communication that we face in the physical world. But, when websites, applications, or any digital products are badly designed, they’re more likely to create new barriers that exclude a particular group of people from using the web. That’s why when it comes to designing a website or an app, you need to do it with accessibility in mind. What does that mean?
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, once stated that the power of the web is in its universality. The web is supposed to work for all people. This idea is also known as web accessibility. In this case, accessibility refers to the experience of users who don’t fall into the category of your “typical” users. These users are usually experiencing some type of disability or impairment including speech, visual, neurological, auditory, cognitive, and physical.
So, web accessibility means that websites, technologies, and tools are designed and developed in ways that people with disabilities can access and use them. They should be able to understand, interact, and navigate with the website or an app.
Accessibility should comes first. There are many important and useful things people can get from the web. Any information you want to learn, the web provides. It’s fundamental that people have equal access and opportunity to access and use the web, including people with disabilities. In the United States, access to information and communications technology is even considered as a basic human right.
Besides, if you make your website or app accessible for everyone, you’ll more likely to have more visitors. That means higher traffic, which also leads to higher conversion rate. An accessible website can also demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CSR).
As a business owner who owns a website or an app, it’s easy to assume that all users can interact with your web content the same way you do. But, the reality is far more complex. Each user is different and it’s possible that some of them might have disabilities. It’s only logical to design and develop a website in ways that people with disabilities can use them. The question is: how? Transcripts for audio – If you have an audio content on your website or app, make sure you include the transcripts so that people with hearing impairment can also access it.
Alternative text for images – Just as audio isn’t available to people who can’t hear, images aren’t available to people who can’t see. Providing alternative text makes the images on your website accessible to people who cannot see and use a screen reader that reads aloud the content on the web page.
Keyboard input – Many older users have limited motor control, which makes them cannot use a mouse. Users who have this kind of disability still can access your website by using an assistive technology that mimics the keyboard, such as speech input.
So, if your website or app still cannot be accessed by literally everyone, now it’s the right time to redesign it. This time, please do it with accessibility in mind!