What is Web Accessibility? 4 Principles of Accessibility


Web accessibility cartoon illustration

March 23, 2021

 
At its core, web accessibility is the practice of making sites usable by as many people as possible. This includes people with disabilities as well as other groups like mobile device users, people with slow network speed, etc. Accessibility is the ethical thing to do when developing and designing your site. Additionally, it’s part of the law in some countries so it might be unavoidable for you.
 
Here are the most important things you should know about web accessibility to help you have a site that can be used by more people.

Benefits of Web Accessibility

Before we jump into the more technical aspects of web accessibility, it’s important to understand why it’s beneficial for everyone, and not solely for people with disabilities. Having an accessible site offers several key advantages for businesses such as:
 
Furthermore, there are governmental policies in the United States, European Union, and other countries related to web accessibility so following the latest guidelines will help keep your site on the right side of the law.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of international guidelines for improving web content accessibility published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Web “content” generally refers to information (such as text, images, and sounds) on sites and applications as well as code or markup that defines the structure, presentation, etc.
 
The goal of WCAG is to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility. The most current W3C recommendation is the WCAG 2.1 which was released in June 2018.

Four Principles of Accessibility

WCAG is organized around four principles of accessibility, which lay the foundation needed for web content to be considered accessible. Here is a high-level overview of each principle:

Perceivable

Information and user interface elements must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive by using one or more of their senses.

Operable

The user interface and navigation must be operable. For example, making buttons clickable by a mouse, keyboard, voice command, etc.

Understandable

Information and operation of the user interface must be understandable to users.

Robust

The content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of ‘user agents’ (e.g. web software) and assistive technologies.
 
It’s important to note that these are general principles and that the WCAG 2.1 goes into A LOT more detail on recommendations for successfully satisfying the guidelines.

Accessibility is Crucial for Digital Marketing

Accessibility isn’t just crucial for your site, but also for your digital marketing. After all, driving people to your site through SEO or PPC efforts won’t yield the results you want if it's only accessible to a small segment. Implementing WCAG makes sense for a variety of reasons from usability to ethics. In summary, accessibility ensures that your site is actually usable by visitors, benefiting your business and making your digital marketing more effective.
 
Call 407.682.2222 or schedule online for a free 30-minute digital marketing consultation today!

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