What is Web Accessibility and Why is it Important?

Web accessibility. What is it? Is it important? Moreover, how do you go about creating a website that meets accessibility standards? In this guide, we’ll answer all those questions (and probably some more). So, without further ado, let’s get started!

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility is the process of optimizing and creating websites that are as easy to access and surf as humanly possible. To make things a little easier to understand, you can compare web accessibility to other more common forms of accessibility. For example, everyone understands the importance and purpose of wheelchair ramps. Many people fail to apply that same level of concern to their websites. That’s not a good thing.

Why Web Accessibility is Important for Websites

Websites, like conventional brick-and-mortar businesses, need to be made as accessible as possible. But why? Let’s break it down.

The majority of web accessibility efforts are directed towards the disabled. Disabled people make up a large percentage of web traffic. In fact, according to figures from the Pew Internet Project, 6.8% of the population is sight or hearing impaired, and 8.2% of the populations have difficulty handling a computer mouse. So, in light of that information, it makes sense that a website that is accessible to the differently-abled will garnish more traffic than one that doesn’t make an accessibility effort.

Generally, people who benefit most from web accessibility are those with eye-related problems, motor skill issues, hearing loss, or epilepsy. So it makes sense to tailor your accessibility optimization techniques to those specific disabilities. However, web accessibility is not only about optimizing your content for the disabled; it is also the process of optimizing your site’s usability for the average visitor.

Is Accessibility Important for SEO?

In general, web accessibility optimization isn’t about creating a site that performs well in search. However, optimizing for accessibility often overlaps with traditional SEO efforts. In short, optimizing your site for accessibility will also help with your search engine performance. Why? Because an accessible website is a website that adequately answers user queries.

How to Optimize for Web Accessibility

Now that you have a good understanding of what web accessibility is and why it’s important, we can begin to discuss how one goes about making their website an accessible one. Optimizing your site for accessibility isn’t as daunting of a process as it seems. All you have to do is make sure that your site provides the following:

  • Easily Digested Text Content The first thing you should tackle when optimizing for accessibility is your text content. It should be easy to read and scaleable to 200% without the need for assistive technology. You should also avoid using high-contrast color ratios because they are considered more difficult to read.
  • Mobile Usability An accessible website is one that is fully functional on any mobile device. Every element that appears on the desktop version of your site should also appear in the mobile version.
  • Easy Digested Non-Text Content Non-text content refers to videos, images, and style elements. Also, just like your text-based content, non-text content needs to be accessible. To make your non-text content accessible, add alt-attribute tags to images that describe the image in question. Also, make sure to include video transcripts for any video on your site. Make sure that your text-representations for non-text content accurately describe the content in question.
  • Easy of Navigation An accessible website is easy to navigate. It should be easy for any user to navigate your site with only a keyboard. If you find it hard to access a page on your site, chances are your users do too.
  • Clearly Defined Language Every website should have a language clearly defined in HTML for every page on the site. Declaring a language in code helps screen readers and translation software make sense of your content.

If your website ticks all of those previously mentioned boxes, then your site is most likely well-optimized for accessibility. However, accessibility standards are constantly changing. So, there is no guarantee that your previously compliant website is still considered to be fully accessible. In light of that fact, your best bet is to optimize for accessibility continuously. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a list of standards that you should adhere to. In fact, there is a list of them called the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) that you can find here.

If web accessibility optimization feels too daunting, then you can always hire the SEO professionals at Goldstein Brossard to do it for you.