Let’s begin with the main point. What is website accessibility? Well, web accessibility is the simple ability of a human to access any web content. The responsibility of upholding the web accessibility of a website relies on the owners of the website.
Is your website following all the rules of web accessibility? Are your users able to access your web content most comfortably and easily? Find out all you need to know about web accessibility with MK-Way. Give us a call today.
Each person is different from any other. And, each person’s abilities and disabilities can be different from any other in the world. Yet, access to information and communication technologies are a basic human right. For everyone. Over the internet, this phenomenon comes under the purview of web accessibility.
What Is Web Accessibility: The Web Accessibility Standards By W3C
Like all laws in the world, the web accessibility standards are also governed by an authorizing body. It is the World Wide Web Consortium or the W3C. It is an international organization dedicated to making the web an all-inclusive place for everyone.
Let’s read a little about the organization that governs the web accessibility standards: W3C.
What is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)?
The World Wide Web Consortium or W3C creates, maintains, and improves web accessibility standards. W3C is an international community made up of member organizations and their staff. W3C works with the public to develop web accessibility standards. W3C’s inventor and Director Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe lead the organization. And their (or W3C’s) mission is simple: make the web grow to its full potential.
How do the web accessibility standards by W3C work?
The web accessibility standards set by W3C work to make the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities come true. The job of W3C is to ensure the basic human right of being able to access the web is provided to all humans, especially those with diverse abilities. This includes providing internet facilities to:
- people with disabilities,
- older people,
- people in rural areas, and
- populations in developing countries.
These categories of users are at the highest risk of not being able to access the web. And, W3C works tirelessly to ensure that the availability of information on the web is democratized for them.
What Is Web Accessibility From A User's Perspective?
People all over the world are relying more and more on the web for a variety of things, small and big. Young, old, and people of diverse abilities and disabilities are going online for their daily tasks. So, accessibility to websites means a lot of things. It includes accessibility to healthcare, accessibility to education, and accessibility to legal aid. And, more.
But, what does web accessibility mean? What does it entail when a user goes online and looks at a website? How does a user decide which website is more accessible than another?
According to W3C, for accessibility, websites need to ensure certain parameters. These parameters help make the website easy to understand and use for all kinds of users. They have to be specifically coded into the website’s code.
These web accessibility parameters are essential for users with special needs and older ages. And, they help people with varying educational levels. And, Google takes web accessibility very seriously. Therefore, maintaining the standards and avoiding any accessibility problem also helps the owners get their websites onto Google’s listings and indexing.
About Web Accessibility: WCAG 2.1 AA
The most common standard compliances that followed are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The most recent one is the WCAG 2.1 which includes all the guidelines about web accessibility. The guidelines are for everyone with a stake in the web, including:
- owners of the website,
- content producers,
- web developers,
- web designers,
- and more.
There are three versions (A, AA, AAA) and version AA is the most used one, worldwide. These guidelines include and are not limited to the following things:
- The color contrast has to be at least 4.5:1.
- Alt text (alternative text) needs to be used for images that convey the correct meaning.
- Consistent navigation elements have to be present throughout the site.
- The labels on form fields should be accurate.
- Screen readers should be able to convey the status updates.
- The headings should be used in a logical order.
Accessibility of websites: Standards that need to be followed for users
Here are web accessibility standards that any web page has to follow:
Ah, this type of content is a must these days. Not just for people who are watching in loud areas. But, also for people who cannot see, and people who have bad eyesight because of their age.
Bad color contrast means a bad web page. If people cannot see well, how will they read, let alone buy? A website’s design is very important when it comes to using it outdoors and in areas with bad lighting. Also, it is a big part of users with impaired eye-sights.
Another very important thing is voice recognition. Of course, it is a must for users who cannot see or have limited vision. But, it is also helpful for those who are using an accessible website while multitasking. Can you imagine using navigation while driving without voice recognition?
Text to speech
This one is very simple to address. It is vital when it comes to people with vision impairments. It helps users work on multiple things while engaging with your website’s content. So, enabling text to speech on your website only gets its web accessibility measure higher. It helps engage more and more users.
Layout and design
If it cannot be grasped in the milliseconds that a user’s eye spends on it, is it even useful? That is the basic logic behind what is a good accessible design and layout. Not just how pretty it looks. A user’s eyes should find it warm, stress-free, and beautiful, yes. But, the layout and the design should not compromise the information at all. Instead, they should enhance it.
Notifications and feedback
How does a website send out its error messages? How clear are they? Do the notifications appear in a manner and language that is understandable to a common user? Or are they ambiguous and panic-inducing strings of alphanumeric garble? The way a website engages with a user through its notification and feedback has to be simple. If it is, it could ease their work, if it isn’t it could decrease user interactions altogether.
Links, buttons, and controls
Design, as you must have gathered by now, plays a very vital role in web accessibility. It makes or breaks it, very often. Imagine your backlinks that are so tiny that they are invisible on a tab or phone. If your menu cannot be clicked, what then? How would a person with limited vision handle tiny navigation controls? Or click on buttons that are practically blurring into the background? Accessible design is vital for better digital accessibility.
Level of content
A website might flaunt content that is gold when it comes to the information. But, what is the point if a user in need of that information has to use a dictionary to get to it? None. And, that is all about the level of content. If your website has tough language, large chunks of content with no headlines, it’s in trouble. No one is going to be able to get to the real information if it isn’t laid out in a readable language and layout; be sure to provide accessible content.
For all the reasons that we discussed above, keyboard accessibility in a website is vital. It helps people of age, people with disabilities, and people who find working with a mouse difficult. Being able to use a website with a keyboard could alleviate a lot of stress for such users. And, also enhance its web accessibility.
What Is Web Accessibility For Online Businesses?
What strategy rules the web? What ensures your website will last long? What guarantees that it’ll be able to adapt to all the changes that keep happening in Google.
Google’s long-standing motto has been very clear. The Internet should be a basic human right. Access to the internet should be easy. And, so should be its usability. For people of all kinds and people everywhere.
Google’s Core Web Vitals update has made a lot of changes. The focus on user experience and SEO is ever increasing. And, there might not be a separate ranking system to measure accessible websites. Web accessibility is measured by Google. And, it plays a big part in the Google rankings of the websites.
Lighthouse and measuring web accessibility
An important thing to note is that Google already measures web accessibility via its tool, Lighthouse. Do not believe if anyone says otherwise. For a long time, Google has been measuring websites in four areas:
- Best Practices, and
Lighthouse provides an aggregate accessibility score and simple pass/fail audits for websites. And, the metrics based on which websites are ranked already play a vital role in user experience. That is the main reason that web accessibility may become an important metric of ranking accessible websites soon, and inaccessible websites might see their ranking penalized.
Improving web accessibility: Meaning
If you weren’t paying attention to web accessibility in your online business so far, now is a good time. So, how does a website improve its web accessibility? How does one make sure their website is accessible to one and all?
Here are some good practices to follow:
Metadata is important in terms of web accessibility guidelines. If your website shows accurate titles and descriptions, it becomes easier for users to access them via assistive technology, such as a screen reader. It makes searching through search results extremely easy.
Linking text is not a hassle but, a generic ‘click here’ does not give any prior information to the user. Using descriptive link anchor text provides any assistive technology with a clear indication where the link (be it an internal or external link) is taking the user. Instead of ‘click here’, it is better to use ‘download the MK-Way Guide to Web Accessibility’.
A good design should stand out in visuals not in frustration. A website’s design can enhance or hamper its web accessibility fast. Designs should be thoughtful and made keeping in mind any disabled user. They should support every user interaction rather than becoming a hurdle with every click and form-filling.
Audio and video transcriptions are vital for people with hearing impairments. They are a big help in maximizing your website’s search visibility. Having transcriptions for all your websites’ content increases your web accessibility by great measures and is very helpful for any screen reader user, for example.
Users with disabilities rely on assistive technologies for accessing the web. If your website has confusing, cluttered, and out of order headings and tags, it will hamper the interaction of your users. Structured and orderly headings and tags are another important part of accessibility of websites.
Web Accessibility Standards and Laws in Canada
Now, what is web accessibility without strict laws? Not much. Yet, many users and businesses in Canada are not aware of web accessibility standards. And, laws that govern these web accessibility standards.
There are so many of them! All to protect the rights of equal access of the users on the web in Canada. Here they are:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act
The Canadian Charter of Rights is the highest law in the Canadian constitution of its kind. It protects people from discrimination based on mental or physical disability. Similarly, the Canadian Human Rights Act protects people from harassment based on disability, race, age, religion, sex, etc. Together these laws protect the rights of the most vulnerable populations of the country, both online and offline.
The Employment Equity Act
The Employment Equity Act works on employers with federal jurisdiction. It helps in increasing the representation of people with disabilities in Canada’s national workforce. The law also ensures that reasonable accommodations are provided to ease more inclusion.
Standard on Web Accessibility
This is the newest law in Canada that works to uphold web accessibility in Canada. It took effect on August 1, 2011. The law requires the websites and applications that belong to the Government of Canada to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA criteria.
The various territories and provinces in Canada also have their legislation. These laws protect web accessibility as a basic human right in these areas. They are:
- The Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81)
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA)
- Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
- Quebec’s Act to Secure Handicapped Persons in the Exercise of their Rights with a View to Achieving Social, School and Workplace Integration
Achieving Web Accessibility with MK-Way
The founding principle of MK-Way is empathy. Empathy is in our work culture and in the way we treat our customers. We aim to create websites that enhance our client’s business experience as well as the experience of their users. And, in that web accessibility plays a vital role at MK-way. For more knowledge, check out our page!
Interested in learning how to tackle any accessibility issue or improving your website accessibility? With MK-Way, you’ll get transparency and honesty. When you work with us, you get a CMO, and not some other sales reps that only ‘sell’ to make transactions. For more knowledge about web accessibility requirements at MK-Way and testing the accessibility of websites, get a website proposal.