By Studio Imaginet | June 24, 2021

Web Accessibility – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

So, you’re going to build a new website, or revamp your old website. The chances are that the last thing on your mind is how someone visually impaired, deaf, or with limited motor skills is going to use your site. Well, there are many reasons that you need to change your thinking and start putting web accessibility in the forefront of your web planning – with one of the first reasons being that it’s the law.

As of October 2015 every new website developed in Israel is required by law to adhere to the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2 (WCAG2). In October of 2017 the same law required that all Israeli websites – new and old – have to abide by the WCAG2. [1]

The Good

Today, about 20% of the people in the US are disabled and this pretty much reflects the worldwide average. [2] By giving the disabled access to your website, you just opened it to millions of users that otherwise couldn’t have used it.

Do you want to ensure that your site is optimized for the search engines? You can start by making your website accessible to the blind. Search engines are inherently “blind” and the easier their access to your website content, the higher your website’s search engine ranking.

Finally, it is the right thing to do. Knowing that you are making available what you have to offer on your website to the handicapped should give you a good feeling. As the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson stated “We should recall that the quality of a society is ultimately determined by how it deals with and treats its most vulnerable citizens. Empowering persons with disabilities and securing their rights will advance society as a whole.” [3]

The Bad

There are so many types of disabilities – where should you start, what should you include, how much is it going to cost?

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. [4] This definition is very far reaching, but the following are some of the relatively straightforward ways that web development teams can ensure compliance:

  • Sites should allow the user to utilize the keyboard for every function for which the mouse can be used. There are many disabled people who don’t possess the fine motor skills necessary to use a mouse.
  • Websites should work well with screen readers that provide audio for text, and screen magnifiers that enlarge the readable text.
  • The colors on the screen should be adjustable and include a black and white mode for color blind users. In addition, they should work well with braille readers.
  • Providing alternative text for images and transcripts for podcasts. [5]

The Ugly

We are still in the early days of regulating web accessibility. For example, although accessibility testing is mandatory, it has yet to be standardized. In addition, understanding which websites require what accessibility can feel like going through a maze blindfolded. There are numerous factors that come into play such as if the website is for a public or private organization, profit or non-profit, and the organization’s annual turnover. Trying to figure it all out on your own can be a nightmare.

We at Imaginet are here to guide you through the maze of Web Accessibility – not only because it is the right thing to do or because it’s good for your business, but, as an Israeli company, it’s the law.

References

[1] https://www.aisrael.org/?CategoryID=3254&ArticleID=53300

[2] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html

[3] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51104#.WghW9VuCzIW

[4] https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

[5] https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/usable