For your digital marketing agency, web accessibility is now going to be an essential part of your service.
It has become a critical feature that people, especially the disabled, will be on the lookout for.
Without web accessibility, your client’s site can lose over one billion potential impaired customers. Also, if your clients’ sites lack accessibility features (therefore, making them non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, they can be slapped with an ADA lawsuit.
With the growing number of website owners that are sued over non-compliance of the ADA, your clients are likely aware of that scenario now and will begin asking you to develop accessible websites for them.
Which is why your agency must be acquainted with web accessibility so you can integrate it into your design projects — and that’s what we’ll tackle in this post.
Before that, though, let’s take a short look at what web accessibility is about.
Defining web accessibility
Web accessibility is about designing and developing your clients’ websites, apps, and other programs in a way that eases disabled people’s access to them.
When your website is accessible, PWDs can use it painlessly.
They can comprehend your content and organization of elements, navigate the site, contribute to, and interact with it.
Web accessibility covers all types of disabilities impacting the use of websites, including visual, auditory, neurological, cognitive, speech, and physical ones.
In this way, web accessibility ensures it doesn’t exclude the PWDs — and that leads us to the first point your agency should be aware of.
1. Web accessibility aims to include everyone.
Accessibility seeks to include and enable everyone with varied abilities to consume content, enjoy privileges, shop, and do other things online.
Even the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities identifies access to information and communications technologies, even the Web, as a fundamental human right.
Accessibility is highly beneficial primarily for PWDs and individuals experiencing significant physical restrictions.
Examples of these individuals include the elderly who have changing abilities because of aging, or those temporarily disabled due to a broken arm, missing eyeglasses, and others.
Web accessibility lets you design for everyone among your target audience, especially those with physical limitations.
This principle is something your digital agency needs to consider highly at the beginning of your project.
For instance, if you’re designing a website for retirement living spaces like Cork Tree Residences, your audiences may include the middle-aged people, retired, and others.
With this market in mind, your agency needs to identify the likely limitations and disabilities your client’s users may have, such as poor eyesight and hearing, weak motor abilities, and others.
You then have to plan and integrate features that assist the target users in their site navigation.
By pursuing accessibility, your agency can ensure that everyone can enjoy your client’s online services despite any physical constraints.
2. Accessibility is not a hindrance to creativity.
Digital agencies sometimes think accessibility will hinder them from being creative when creating their clients’ websites. However, it doesn’t have to.
Accessibility won’t charge you to create a dull, ugly, or untidy site design. Rather, with your awareness of users’ constraints, it introduces opportunities to develop websites differently.
For example, knowing the colorblind people’s weakness in distinguishing colors lets you pick the right color scheme for various elements.
Implementing these accessibility features, though, entails several major changes in the website coding.
Done manually, coding can be exhausting — not to mention risky, since all that heavy labor can vanish when the website updates.
The good news is, web accessibility technologies exist now to streamline your coding, meet PWD users’ needs, and preserve your creativity.
One such tool is accessiBe, an AI-powered and automated web accessibility solution.
accessiBe allows disabled users to customize aspects of your client’s website interface, like content clarity and colors.
accessiBe even has backend functionalities where PWDs can activate screen readers, keyboard and letter navigation, and more.
What’s advantageous about accessiBe is that these changes are saved in the PWDs’ browser cookies and appear only in their screens.
That means your client’s other customers won’t see the modifications, and its website branding remains the same.
With accessiBe, you can make your client’s site PWD-friendly without stifling your creativity in designing it.
3. Standards are in place to guide your accessibility design.
One of the prominent guidelines for web accessibility is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
A team of web developers and contacted experts from various organizations forms the WCAG Working Group who is in charge of maintaining the guidelines.
The WCAG revolves around four accessibility principles: (1) perceivable information and user interface (UI), (2) operable UI and navigation, (3) understandable info and UI, and (4) robust content and reliable interpretation.
Each one of the four principles has concrete guidelines, and every guideline has success criteria.
For instance, under the first principle, we find this guideline: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example, simple layout) without losing information or structure.
The guideline then follows these success criteria below:
- Instructions provided for understanding and operation content do not rely solely on sensory characteristics of components such as shape, size, visual location, orientation, or sound.
- The meaning of each input field collecting information about the user can be programmatically determined when:
- The input field has a meaning that maps to the HTML 5.2 Autofill field names; and
- The content is implemented using technologies with support for identifying the expected meaning of form input data (among others).
What’s more, these guidelines observe three compliance levels: A (minimum), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest).
Level A means that the fundamental accessibility features are present, but accessibility isn’t generally on a broad scale yet.
Level AA indicates that the site addresses the most frequent barriers for PWDs.
Finally, Level AAA resolves the highest degree of web accessibility possible for the site.
These levels are the basis for determining WCAG conformance, which then helps safeguard your client from accessibility-related lawsuits and demand letters.
It’s worth noting, too, that your agency or client must carefully decide which level to aim for.
That’s because the selection will impact your schedule and budget allocation, including the amount of protection your client can likely have from violating accessibility regulations.
Web accessibility allows your digital agency to be more inclusive as you design site elements that aid PWDs in using your client’s site.
With the help of reliable technologies, you can design accessible sites more cost-efficiently and effectively.
Accessibility may also take plenty of planning, so consider it right at the beginning of building your client’s site, and you won’t need to go back and redo your design.