How to make your website Accessible in 2024

TL:DR:

Website accessibility is essential for all users to access content, boosting engagement, conversion rates, and SEO. It’s legally required in many countries, demonstrating social responsibility, and improves overall user experience. Accessibility also taps into a significant market with considerable disposable income. Ignoring it can lead to legal issues, missed opportunities, and poor SEO.

Why It Matters:

  1. Website accessibility is crucial as it allows all users, irrespective of ability, to access the web content, leading to better engagement and conversion rates.
  2. There are legal implications for not prioritizing web accessibility, with over 4,400 lawsuits filed in 2022 for inaccessible digital experiences.
  3. People with disabilities represent a largely untapped market with a disposable income of over $200 billion, emphasizing the business potential of web accessibility.
  4. Implementing web accessibility features like alt text for images, color contrast, and clear navigation not only benefits disabled users but also improves the overall user experience and SEO ranking.
Woman with Down's Syndrome working on her laptop

Why Website Accessibility is important

Have you ever visited a website only to find that it’s difficult or impossible to navigate? Or you just cant stare at it too long because Man, that color contrast! Maybe the text was too small to read or the colors made it hard to distinguish between different sections. This can be even worse for those who rely on assistive technologies to access online content. I have discussed Website Accessibility in another post, so check that one out as well!

That’s why web accessibility is so important. Did you know only 3% of the internet is accessible to those with a disability? By making sure that websites are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities, we create a more inclusive online experience. But it’s not just about doing the right thing. It’s about making sure that those who need assistive technologies can access the other 97% of the internet! Web accessibility can also lead to better engagement and conversion rates, improved SEO, as well as avoid legal trouble!

Female in wheelchair using her laptop

Legality of Website Accessibility

Website Accessibility is not just good business sense. Failing to prioritize web accessibility can have legal consequences. In 2022 alone, over 4,400 lawsuits were filed for inaccessible digital experiences. In many countries, providing inclusive digital experiences is a legal requirement, and it demonstrates social responsibility.

For instance, businesses found violating ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility regulations can be fined between $55,000 to $75,000 for the first violation, and repeated offenses can attract even higher penalties. The Justice Department can also impose fines if it finds a business guilty of non-compliance with web accessibility standards.

Some nations, like Canada and the US, have laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities, making digital accessibility not just an ethical mandate but also a legal one. Therefore, prioritizing web accessibility is about more than just avoiding legal consequences. It’s about committing to inclusive digital experiences and demonstrating social responsibility that respects the civil rights of all users.

Thankfully, there are 4 main Principles of Website Accessibility as Organized by WCAG. On top of that, they made it easy to remember as it spells POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Here is a quick summary of what that jargon means.

Website Accessibility Principle 1: Perceivable

It’s Got to Be Seen: Your website’s information and interface need to be presented in a way that everyone can PERCEIVE. This means coming up with alternatives for things such as video and images. So adding Alt Text or adding transcripts or captions. It comes down to: if they can’t see it, they can’t use it!

Website Accessibility Principle 2: Operable

Ease of Use for all: Anyone and everyone should be able to OPERATE your website. This includes using the right keyboard access keys and avoiding any traps that could mess with standard functionality. Combining this with making sure that things are Perceivable, helps people when using voice commands and other assistive devices.

Website Accessibility Principle 3: Understandable

Keep It Simple: Your site needs to be clear and UNDERSTANDABLE to use. People shouldn’t feel like they’re solving a puzzle when trying to interact with your content and site. So, for instance as ‘cool’ as a horizontal scrolling website is it is not completely understandable. Remember, people need to know the answers to the 3 Questions, they are not playing a video game.

Website Accessibility Principle 4: Robust

Compatibility is Key: Your website user interface has to be ROBUST. This means a couple of things: It should work the same way every time, and it also needs to be future-proof in that it (going back to Perceivability) it needs to work with future and current assistive technologies.

Person using assistive device to use laptop

How Website Accessibility and SEO help each other

Improving web accessibility doesn’t just benefit those with disabilities. It can improve the overall user experience and positively impact SEO rankings. Google considers web accessibility as a core metric when evaluating the quality of a website through tools like PageSpeed Insights.

As mentioned things like Alt text for images help those with screen readers understand what the images and page is about. Also, things such as Color Contrast, Font size, type and choice are also important. Have you ever been to a website where it was hard to read because of the color or size of the font? You want to make sure it works for everyone that visits your site. Lastly, clear navigation, as well as descriptive URLs all help with people and Google knowing what your site is about.

So we can see that we can kill two birds with one stone as it were. When website accessibility is prioritized, you can also improve your site’s SEO. It’s a win-win situation.

Now let me say, website accessibility should never be done solely for the purpose of improving SEO. However, by ensuring your website is accessible, you’re also practicing good SEO. At first, it can seem a little scary and you are not sure where to start. That is alright. One of the great things as I mentioned before is that there are resources online to help you understand where your site needs improvement for Website Accessibility.

A couple of the resources I use is (as mentioned above) PageSpeed Insights, as well as this resource by Deque University to check color contrast. Just take it step by step and focus on creating a website that is accessible and user-friendly, and the rest will follow.

Image of handicap sign on a wall

How to Start and What to do?

The best place to start is to use PageSpeed Insights and look at what they say needs to be fixed. Then, start fixing them as best you can one by one. One of the easiest ways is to start adding Alt Text to your images and improving the color contrast between text and backgrounds. Then from there you can see what else needs to be fixed.

If you are having trouble figuring out what needs to be fixed or are unsure how to do it, Book a Call with me today! I can help figure out what needs to be done so you can make sure your page is compliant and looks great to anyone and everyone.

Website Accessibility is important for creating an inclusive online experience for everyone who comes to your site. Ignoring web accessibility not only misses a business opportunity, but it can also lead to legal consequences. When we start to focus on improving Website Accessibility, we can make sure we make the internet a place anyone can go to and find what they need.