How accessible is your website? Was accessibility a consideration when your website was designed?
When we work with our clients, digital accessibility is a key focus of our work. If your website is to be a true “mission delivery platform,” helping you fully achieve your organization’s goals, it needs to serve all your constituents. Your website is accessible when it is built and designed so that everybody can engage and interact with it, including people with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.
“Accessibility” encompasses a wide range of considerations, and centering accessibility as a baseline element of your website design benefits all visitors, not just people with disabilities. Think about folks that access your site using a wide variety of screen sizes (from cell phone to wide-screen monitor), anyone with a temporary injury like a broken arm, someone who’s lost their reading glasses and can’t make out small print, people visiting your site from different physical environments (like sitting in bright sunlight, or in a place where they can’t listen to audio), or the large swaths of the world without high-speed internet connections. That set of “accommodations” starts to look a lot like “common sense” when you really think through all these possibilities!
There are many different design and functionality aspects to consider when building for accessibility; for most organizations, this means taking a cue from the World Wide Web Consortium (“WC3”), conforming to the best practices described in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
To list just a few of these guidelines:
- provide alt-text for all images
- follow color contrast and minimum font size recommendations
- format written copy to be screen reader friendly
- build links and menus that can be navigated by keyboard (without a mouse)
- code the site in a way that clearly identifies page elements and their proper sequence
- and so on!
We typically build sites to meet “Level AA” of the WCAG, and we analyze the accessibility of the sites we build, using publicly available resources like the evaluation tool and contrast checker from WebAIM. Throughout the discovery and specification process, we’ll work with your team to point out design decisions that may impact accessibility, and advise on how best to proceed.
Accessibility is a continuum, and improvement can be an iterative process! One of our clients, Different & Able, was seeking to go beyond the Level AA guidelines in order to best serve their community, and chose to implement an overlay tool that allows individuals to adjust the user interface to their personal needs. You can see it in action here; click the blue person icon in the bottom right corner.
Are you ready to learn more about making your site accessible? If so, please reach out to your support email address and we’ll happily answer your questions.