Why is accessibility important?
Imagine a person with a disability tries to order noodles from your delivery website and can’t because not all the fields are operable using a keyboard.
Imagine your new potential client tries to schedule an online appointment in your clinic and can’t because your website isn’t adapted for screen readers.
Imagine someone with epilepsy looks through your fancy modern website and gets a seizure because of too many blinking details.
Health, well-being, and loss of bargain - we guess these reasons are already enough for you to make sure your website or app is accessible by different groups of people.
There are people with visual impairments, mobility impairments, hearing impairments. There are also people with a poor internet connection or with outdated mobile phones. It shouldn’t be a surprise for you that you’re lawfully obliged to have your website or application adapted for these groups of people. That’s what accessibility is.
You may also come across the abbreviation a11y. This is how it was formed.
Accessibility requirements. For whom should we adapt?
What groups of people should we bear in mind while developing a website?
People with visual impairments:
- low-level vision
- color blindness
These people use screen readers to interact with websites. That said, your website should be readable by these devices. Find some of the accessibility requirements in the PDF from the drop-down banner or read more here.
People with hearing impairments:
- low hearing levels
- no hearing at all
Hearing-impaired people use Assistive Devices for People with Hearing, Voice, Speech, or Language Disorders.
People with mobility impairments:
- physical issues (no limb or paralysis)
- limited control of limbs due to disorders and difficulty using a mouse
- paralysis to the point where people need a head pointer to interact with computers
People with cognitive impairments:
- intellectual disabilities
- aging, having difficulty thinking and remembering
- depression, schizophrenia, other mental illnesses
- learning disabilities (dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
The people from the last group can be easily confused with a web page layout, crooked logic, too much content, too complicated forms.
Accessible doesn’t mean too plain, ugly, rejecting cool features and graphics. It means delivering complex ideas and things clearly and simply.
Accessible or not? Situations, examples
Let’s learn how to distinguish the situation when you need to pay special attention to the accessibility of your website/application.
Below is a matrix with the main physical disabilities groups and their statuses.
The presented groups can and do use your website/app as well. You must keep them and their specifics of website/web application development.
Let’s also check some examples that show good practices implementation and their lack. Do you see the problems that also occur on your website? Then fix them asap!
Why business should go for it?
- Law. There are many lawsuits already and plaintiffs always win and get money. For example, Californian Bag’n Baggage was forced to pay $4,000 to the plaintiff who wasn’t capable to shop on their inaccessible website. Oftentimes, there is a special accessibility law in a particular country. Check the link to the government policies in the block Useful links.
- Morals. It’s the inclusion century, let’s keep up with it. Your users are many different unique people, so make sure that they have access to your services.
- Lost profit. As long as you want to make money, you ought to remember that, according to World Health Organization, “about 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability”. It’s 1,1 milliard of people - a huge market.
What businesses are the most vulnerable to be sued?
According to 3PlayMedia, these industries are in danger of being sued:
- food service
If you have an app that considers users actively communicate with it - double-check the accessibility standards.
Accessibility and Drupal
Now that you’ve recognized yourself among those who need an adapted website, what technical solution should you go for?
We often advise using the Drupal CMS as it has many accessibility features out-of-the-box and the Drupal Community actively contribute new functionality.
So what does Drupal have?
- Special markup in HTML, for example, the language tags
- Images descriptions and alt descriptions
- Built-in responsive images
- Headings can be used for page-level navigation
- Controlled tab order that enables non-visual users and non-mouse users to access all the elements on the page
There are also contributed modules for Drupal 8. Check the link in the block Useful links.
Accessibility best practices
Here we would like to address some common-sense practices that you should take into account from the very first stage of development.
According to WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), your website or app should be perceivable, operable, understandable, robust.
There are 3 levels of accessibility: A, AA, AAA. Usually, implementing AA accessibility requirements is enough for the law. Below we will list some A and AA practices that are being violated the most from our experience.
1. All content should be perceivable
- All non-text content should have a text equivalent if possible.
- You should create captions for audio and video.
- The reading sequence should be understandable and obvious, otherwise - programmatically determined.
- It’s supposed to be a poor practice to rely on color, shape, sound to operate the content. Some people don’t recognize colors, some have hearing impairments, some cannot comprehend a way too much-complicated logic due to aging or mental diseases.
- A contrast ratio of text and images should be at least 4.5:1.
- Text size can be resized 2 times bigger without any assistive devices
2. The content should be operable
- To cut a long story short, all functionality must be operable through a keyboard
- If there are time limits for some actions, they can be turned off (for example, a photo carousel)
- No more than 3 flashes per second - don’t provoke falling sickness
3. The content should be understandable
- Navigational mechanisms that are repeated throughout the website should occur in the same order
- Components with the same functionality should be identified the same way throughout the website
- If an error occurs, it should be identified to a user
4. The content should be robust and compatible with different assistive technologies. For example, elements do not contain duplicate attributes, and any IDs are unique. Attributes of user interface components can be programmatically determined.
Write and publish an accessibility statement on your website: here you may specify how exactly you improved accessibility and how you address this topic in general. Probably, you have an accessibility professional in your team or you hold accessibility audit frequently.
Find an elaborated description in the PDF in the drop-down banner.