Web Accessibility Matters

Making digital experiences more accessible to people with disabilities

There are an estimated 57 million Americans who live with a disability. You may know what a disability is but do you realize how they affect web browsing? The web is full of interfaces that don't consider the diversity of abilities.

Disabilities that affect web browsing: Visual 3.2 million, Hearing 3.9 million, Cognitive Mental 7.9 million, Ambulatory 9.8 million

People with disabilities rely on other technologies to interact with the web, such as screen readers, video captions, Braille keyboards and speech-to-text software. Websites with thoughtful layout, well-organized content and clear navigation help digest content easier. Everyone benefits, not just people with a disability.

Why make sites accessible?

It’s morally right

Everyone should have equal access to the information on the web.

Economically smart 

You could be preventing some users from purchasing products, signing up for paid classes or finding a doctor.

It’s the law

We have civil rights legislation, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the Reauthorized Rehabilitation Act and the Telecommunications Act. They all support the fact that people should have equal access to the information that’s on the web.

Screen readers present content to users the opposite way in which sighted people use the web. Sighted users scan an entire screen immediately, comprehending the overall layout and design. Screen readers present content one item at a time from beginning to end. It’s like an automated phone menu; where you must wait to hear all the options before you make your selection.

If you want to see how users with disabilities use the web, watch this video. Warning: this is a very old video, as we have not found a better video that demonstrates as well as this one. A lot of the problems these individuals faced then are still a problem today.

You may be thinking, “what can I do?”  You can start by championing awareness. Knowledge is power. Get educated.

WebAIM (Web with Accessibility in Mind) is a great place to start. WebAIM has a plethora of information as well as an explanation of tools that you can use to test web pages. WAVE is a great tool that is used to test the accessibility of millions of web pages.

Web accessibility evaluation tool screenshot

What I like about this tool is that it embeds inline feedback into your web content. There are helpful icons that identify potential problems or features. The “No Styles” view will show you how a screen reader sees the page. The “Code” button at the bottom of the page reveals where the problem lies within your code.

I’ll be honest - learning about accessibility can be intimidating. With the best intentions in the world, I have found that the learning curve is huge. Don’t let that stop you – dive in, educate yourself and help make a difference.

For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at nicole.stone@laughlin.com or 414.270.7235.

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