What Is Website Accessibility?

This hot topic in the technology world can be a little confusing for website owners and administrators.

Web accessibility grants all users, regardless of physical, neurological, or environmental disabilities, equal access and usage to websites across the board. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 regulates these compliance standards. There is some precedent for websites being threatened with legal action if they don’t move toward becoming more accessible.

Accessibility can benefit users with various disability levels:

  • auditory, visual, and cognitive
  • temporary disabilities like a broken arm
  • situational impairment like bright sunlight or being on a mobile device
  • economic issues like slow Internet connection 

Why is it important?

The more users that can navigate and interact with the Web, the more users can contribute to the Web.

This kind of inclusion promotes diversity and increases the knowledge base available worldwide. As the Internet holds the key to entertainment, career advancement and placement, education for elementary schools and up, accessibility is being increasingly accepted as a fundamental human right.

What does it mean for you?

From a practical standpoint for businesses, it’s simple: the more people that can use your site, the more opportunity for increased revenue and user satisfaction.

What changes are made?

While making your site more accessible may sound overwhelming or confusing, the types of improvements made are practical, and in most instances, invisible.

Common adjustments include:

  • adding alt text for images and links 
  • adding labels for links
  • managing hierarchy of the page content
  • sensible navigation
  • color adjustments

Looking at the image above, users without visual impairment can see a sunset over the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Someone with a visual disability may be visiting a website and utilizing a screen reader, which reads aloud content, labels, and titles that aren’t visible to the eye. An alt tag (alternative text) would let them know what the image is.

Similar titles and labels also are used for links. If a link is going to take a user to a page outside the website and open in a new tab, a title can let the user know what is going to happen if they click the link. 

Hierarchy and navigation in website design go hand in hand. Users that cannot use a mouse, for instance, navigate sites by “tabbing” (using the tab button to go from link to link, or section to section.) Logically organizing the website ensures a much more pleasant experience. Cues to the organization of a section, like using appropriate headings, allow users and other platforms to follow along effectively.

Another issue that pops up often is color contrast. There are tools web developers can use to make sure the colors they are choosing contrast enough for those who are at various levels of visual impairment.

What do these changes mean?

Overall, any strides you take to make your site more accessible will help your website and business. Not only does this limit the possibility of a lawsuit against you, but your site and business will be available to more users. Site visitors that do not have any obvious disability will not be negatively affected; in fact, the more accessible a site is, the better the user experience is for all. As Google introduced an accessibility auditing tool, it is becoming evident that increasing site accessibility will also improve SEO and indexing. 

A site that is moving toward full ADA compliance will reflect well on the business behind it.

Want to know more? Go in-depth on Accessibility.

How can the RealTech Support team help you?

RealTech offers a Website Accessibility Improvement Service to ensure that our clients’ sites are moving towards compliance, which also minimizes the risk of legal action. While some of these changes seem like they may be easy to implement, in-depth development experience is necessary to make these improvements. If you’re already our client, let RealTech run an audit on your site; we’ll put an individualized plan into action just for you.

The typical outcome of this Improvement Service is that clients’ site audit scores improve 25% to 50%. Clients all over the country are opting to move forward with making their site more compliant, and RealTech is continuing research and implementation far past the initial audit. As accessibility becomes more and more the standard for website development, we’re on the cutting edge for how to make vacation rental websites more accessible for all.

Questions? Reach out to support@rtservices.net and get started on making your site more accessible today.

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