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A closer look at website accessibility in 2020

08.01.2020
A closer look at website accessibility in 2020
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Website accessibility in 2020 is one of the vital issues facing businesses. The question “Is my website accessible?” is a question more and more website owners are asking. In this post, we discuss the fundamentals of web accessibility and what is needed to make your website accessible in 2020.

What is website accessibility?

The father of the World Wide Web, Timothy John Berners-Lee, said the power of the Web is in its universality, and an essential aspect of that is access for everyone regardless of disability.

Website accessibility is the ability of a site to address the needs of people with permanent, temporary, or situational impairments. Its content and interface components are easy to understand and use in various ways including via assistive software.

To give a sense of the scale of the issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately one in four adults in the US has an impairment of some variety.

What are web accessibility guidelines and laws?

The most prominent law in this sphere is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.

To help developers achieve ADA compliance for websites and web applications, there are special detailed guidelines. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

To achieve better interaction with the accessibility devices, W3C has also introduced WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) standard that offers a set of special attributes to add to the HTML markup.

Website accessibility in 2020: what’s new and what to expect

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) turns 30 this year and the importance of website accessibility in 2020 continues to grow. The issues of inclusiveness and non-discrimination are gaining more and more momentum. Accessibility will have an even greater impact on the brand.

We should also expect continued growth in the number of accessibility lawsuits. In 2019, the digital business world took notice of a case against the singer Beyoncé Knowles over her official website’s being inaccessible to visually impaired people. The suit was brought by a woman from New-York who claimed it was keeping an estimated 2 million users from accessing the information.

In 2020, websites are also guided by the updated version of WCAG — WCAG 2.1 published in 2018. It extends the previous WCAG 2.0 with several new guidelines addressing the needs of users with a variety of impairments, including vision, hearing, mobility, learning, and more.

By the end of 2019, we have also received the updated WAI-ARIA version — WAI-ARIA 1.2 for developers to use in 2020.

This means that it’s time to take care of your website accessibility and bring them into line with these guidelines, for which you can contact our web development team.

How to make your website accessible in 2020

Let’s review some of the most prominent things required from websites to become accessible to wider audiences in 2020.

  • Always provide ALT tags for images and graphics.

Example: ALT text for weather icons on the New South Wales government website (highlighted by the Wave accessibility checker):

Web accessibility example: ALT text for graphics

  • Equip your audio and video with alternative ways to perceive it (captions, text transcripts, sign language interpretation, and more).
  • Use sufficient color contrasts.
  • Don’t rely on colors alone, use them in combination with labels for UI elements.
  • Use simple language in the text and, if you use technical jargon, provide definitions.
  • Make the text size adjustable.
  • Make the audio volume adjustable.
  • Make animation easy to turn off.
  • Make sure your website supports navigation with the keyboard instead of the mouse.

Example: keyboard-accessible navigation on the US government site:

Web accessibility example: keyboard accessible navigation

  • Take care of speech input and touch activation support.
  • Provide clear page titles.
  • Provide clear link descriptions.
  • Use descriptive labels for form fields.
  • Show specific and informative error notifications next to each form field and offer suggestions.
  • Make your design elements consistent in their labels and positions on the page.
  • Give users the ability to stop, pause, and resume their actions if they need more time.
  • Give users the ability to replay or pause your media.
  • Provide the proper HTML markup to make the content easily read by assistive software.
  • Use WAI-ARIA attributes when they are necessary to provide interaction with assistive devices.

Example: use of ARIA attributes on French government site (highlighted by the Wave accessibility checker):

Web accessibility example: ARIA attributes

Web professionals can provide your website accessibility

As you can see, web accessibility in 2020 embraces numerous aspects. But when digital businesses implement the best accessibility practices, it is perceived very positively by society.

Our web development company can do an accessibility audit for your site and put all these recommendations into action. Be accessible in 2020 and beyond!

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