Web accessibility is the idea that there are no barriers preventing people from accessing and interacting with websites, digital tools, and technologies, even if they have a disability. Why is this important? For consumers, accessibility means not being excluded from engaging with the digital world.
For businesses, there’s even more at stake. Accessibility is required by law, specifically by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, ensuring accessibility can improve the company’s reputation and increase its market share. Both of these result in an increase in profit, which is always good for business. So, how do you ensure that your website is accessible to all? Below, we discuss the essentials of an accessible website.
1. Your website must be ADA compliant
What is ADA compliance?
In 2010, the Department of Justice released the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. According to these standards, all electronic and information technology must be accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. Simply put, all electronic information, products, and services (such as websites) should be designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.
Why make your website ADA-compliant?
ADA compliance applies to all private companies that employ 15 or more employees, businesses that operate for the public good, and government agencies. For example, if you run a business and have a website, you need to make sure it is accessible or risk being sued.
Aside from avoiding lawsuits, making your website accessible will help your business grow. As we’ve mentioned before, it helps improve your brand’s reputation and increases your market share. Web accessibility also improves the customer’s experience, which ensures customer loyalty. All of these help increase your company’s bottom line.
2. Content must be organized & structured
If you want your customers to understand the content on your website easily, you need to make sure that they understand its structure. When sighted readers read this article, they can easily see the main topic and how the information is organized by looking at the different sections marked by the appropriate headings and subheadings. They can, at a glance, quickly navigate to the part of the content they are interested in.
The same rule applies to those who use assistive technologies such as screen readers. Organizing your website using appropriate headings can make understanding how the different pages are related and navigate the website.
3. Images must be descriptive
Providing alt text to images on your website is beneficial in several ways. Alt text allows people with visual impairments to understand what information you convey through the image. It also helps search engine crawlers and improves search engine optimization (SEO). In addition, if the image fails to load, visitors will still know what is depicted in the image they should be seeing.
4. Users must have access to all documents & PDFs
Prioritize your documents & PDFs
It’s not only the content of your website that needs to be accessible. According to the ADA, any documents that you have made available to the public online such as guides, ebooks, white papers, invoices, statements, research papers, etc., need to be accessible as well.
Remediate all documents & PDFs
Not all documents and PDFs are created the same way. If these documents were not created with accessibility in mind, it’s likely not accessible to everyone, particularly those with disabilities. This is where document remediation comes in.
PDF remediation is the process of fixing any accessibility issues that are preventing or making it difficult for individuals with disabilities to read and interacting with PDFs. This process includes “tagging” elements in PDFs to help assistive technologies identify them and understand the document’s structure and how it should be read. Remediation also means ensuring that the documents can be understood by all, including people with cognitive impairments.
Reach a larger audience
Accessibility allows you to reach a larger audience. For example, when documents and PDFs are made accessible, people with disabilities will also use them and interact with them.
Any business that wants to succeed in this digital age needs to have an accessible website, not just because the law requires it but also because it’s a good business practice. When you ensure that everyone, including those with disabilities, can consume your content, you improve customer experience, boost loyalty, and improve brand reputation. You also end up attracting even more customers. When you provide access to everyone, you increase your bottom line.
David started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. In addition, he enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.