The Barriers To An Accessible Website And The Benefits Of Overcoming Them

A recent press release from the Department of Justice suggested that it is returning to the viewpoint that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does, in fact, require all private websites to be accessible to users with disabilities. This means that companies of all shapes and sizes are expected to have an accessible website.

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Overcoming Accessibility Barriers

According to the universally-accepted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, web accessibility is judged on four principles, known as POUR (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust). Here’s a breakdown of what each one of these principles represents.

  • Perceivable: All website visitors must be able to interpret the user interface and all of its elements.
  • Operable: The navigation and user interface components must be functional.
  • Understandable: The content on the user interface should be understandable. The interface should also be simple to understand with simple navigation.
  • Robust: The content and interface should be compatible with a wide range of assistive technologies without losing core value.

With those four principles in mind, let’s look at some of the most common barriers to web accessibility that users experience.

Poor Color Contrast

Poor color contrast on text was the most common accessibility issue, affecting an astounding 85 percent of pages, according to a 2022 report on the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 home pages. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) recommends a contrast of at least 4.5:1 on normal text. This contrast means that text is visible to all users, including those with limited eyesight or color blindness.

Using Color To Deliver Information

People who are colorblind may be denied access to information if transmitted exclusively via color cues, since they will be unable to discern certain hues from others. Furthermore, given that screen readers do not alert the user to the color of text on a screen, a blind person would be unable to realize that color is utilized to relay specific information even if they use assistive technology.

Lack Of Text Alternatives

When no text alternative is offered, those who are visually impaired will be unable to understand the content and purpose of visuals such as photos, graphs, and other images. For this reason, all visual content should contain alt text that is compatible with screen readers.

No Captions On Videos

People with hearing impairments may not grasp information given in a video if it lacks captions. As a result, all videos must include captions to deliver this information.

Inaccessible Online Forms

Some users may be unable to fill out, comprehend, and accurately submit forms for various reasons (cognitive and sight disabilities, for example). If forms timeout too quickly, have ambiguous wording or are difficult to navigate, they may discriminate against those with disabilities.

Mouse-Only Navigation (Lack Of Keyboard Navigation)

Users who cannot operate a mouse or trackpad won’t have access to online information if a website is only navigable by mouse. Thus, all websites should support keyboard navigation.

The Benefits Of A More Accessible Website

Minimize The Chance Of Costly Lawsuits

2021 set a new high for web accessibility lawsuits. As awareness grows, these figures will likely continue to rise until businesses fix their accessibility issues. The average cost of a web accessibility settlement, according to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, is roughly $25,000.

Exposure To A Lucrative Market

There are over 1 billion disabled people in the world. As it turns out, disabled people also make up one of the demographics with the most disposable income. As a result, excluding disabled users from your website and restricting them from purchasing your products and services is a terrible business decision. It not only looks bad from a branding standpoint, but it will almost certainly hurt your bottom line. For this reason, organizations that do not have accessible websites lose approximately $6.9 billion every year to competitors who do.

Positive PR

As we just touched upon, your stance on web accessibility can profoundly impact your branding and public relations because diversity and inclusion have become such big issues in our global society, being shown to discriminate against any individual or demographic risks a significant public backlash. Conversely, removing all barriers to accessibility on your website and opening up your service to all users is a great way to improve the perception of your brand. Plus, it’s simply the right thing to do!

In summary

Following the latest clarification from the DOJ, it is clear that website owners must accommodate users with disabilities. Along with the DOJ and WCAG recommendations, there are numerous resources available to business owners that help increase the overall POUR (permeability, operability, understandability, and robustness) of their websites.

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