Reasons to Make Your Digital Content Accessible to All

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

As many as 20% of the world’s population are disabled. They are often hindered by accessibility issues when surfing webs that don’t match accessibility standards.

What can you do to ensure that your products and services are accessible and able to be used by people with disabilities?

All of you, whether you’re a startup company or a large corporation that has been operating for a long time, know that there are challenges when it comes to sourcing the information that you provide accessible content for the public and a better user experience.

What is Digital Accessibility?

Many people in the world live with a disability. They may have a visual impairment, hearing loss, or some other condition that makes it difficult for them to use the Internet. If you are a web developer, what can you do to make your website accessible to everyone?

Digital accessibility is about making your website available to people with disabilities. Some disabilities may make it difficult for someone to use a computer or the Internet. Others may make it difficult for someone to read, see, or hear content on a screen.

There are many types of disabilities and many ways that they can create accessibility barriers on how someone uses the Internet. Some of these include:

Mobility impairments — a disability that affects the ability to move around. People with mobility impairments may use assistive technologies such as screen readers and keyboards designed for people with limited motor skills.

Visual impairments — a disability that affects vision or visual perception, including blindness and low vision. A person who is blind has no sight at all and relies on audio cues to navigate online content.

A person who is visually impaired has sight but has difficulty perceiving or interpreting images in a normal way, or using software and hardware that relies on images (such as digital cameras).

People who are visually impaired may use screen readers, image descriptions, refreshable braille displays, descriptive links, and high-contrast modes to access the web.

Hearing impairments — a disability that affects hearing or the ability to perceive sound. People with hearing impairments may use assistive technologies such as screen readers and closed captions to access content on the web.

Cognitive disabilities — a disability that affects cognitive function such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving, remembering, or concentrating.

People with cognitive disabilities may have difficulty using websites that rely on mouse input for navigation (e.g., drop-down menus, hover-to-activate features).

Speech disabilities — a disability that affects the ability to produce speech or use language. People with speech disabilities may have difficulty using websites that rely on voice input for navigation (e.g., voice search) or whose content is not written in plain language.

Accessibility vs. Readability

A person with a disability may have difficulty using the Internet because of the way a website is designed, not because of the disability itself.

For example, content pieces that use complex language may be difficult for anyone to use, not just people with disabilities.

Accessibility is about making your website available to everyone. Readability is about making your website easy to read and understand. The two concepts are related but they are not the same thing.

A person with a disability may have difficulty using your website because it’s not accessible or because it’s hard to read and understand. Or it could be both!

Sighted users who use assistive technologies such as screen readers are maybe also able to read content on a screen without difficulty.

Screenreader users who have low vision may be able to see some text on a screen but may have difficulty reading text in high-contrast modes or small fonts (for example, 12pt font on a dark background).

Why Digital Accessibility for People is Important

The World Wide Web was designed to be used by everyone. However, not everyone can use the web.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says that people with disabilities have the right to access information and services on an equal basis with others.

When you create a website, you are creating a service that is available to everyone. People with disabilities should be able to use your website just as easily as people without disabilities.

A website that is accessible to people with disabilities will also be more usable for everyone. For example, a website that is accessible to people who are blind will also be easier for people who have low vision or cognitive disabilities to use.

A website that is accessible to people who are deaf will also be easier for people who have hearing impairments or speech disabilities to use.

How Do You Improve Your Content Accessibility?

To make your website accessible to people with disabilities, you need to make sure that it meets the accessibility regulations of WCAG 2.0.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are the international standard for making web content accessible to people with disabilities.

The guidelines include 12 principles and over 100 success criteria to help you make your website accessible to everyone.

The guidelines are organized into three levels of accessibility for people: A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the most basic level of accessibility and Level AAA is the highest level of accessibility.

For most websites, Level A is the minimum level of accessibility required to make your website accessible to people with disabilities. You can meet Level A requirements by following the 12 principles and the checklist of accessibility compliance.

This checklist is designed for anyone who creates or maintains a website, including non-developers such as content authors and editors, marketing professionals, business owners, etc.

The checklist helps you determine if your website meets accessibility requirements such as providing a link to access information and notifying users of any major changes to the website.

It also lists steps that you can take as you develop your website to ensure that it meets accessibility requirements such as using semantic HTML and making sure your content is available in multiple formats (e.g., text, audio, video).

Final Thought

As a web developer and digital content creator, you can help make the web more accessible to everyone. You can meet accessibility requirements by following the 12 principles and many of the success criteria in WCAG 2.0.

About the Author

I hope that my post has helped you know more about Startups. Feel free to leave a comment and tag me and I will answer them. Follow my profile to get the latest content I post to stay ahead of the curve.

I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies, a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces, and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.

Connect with me on LinkedIn if you have further questions. Let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.

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Alexander Lim

Alexander Lim

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.