May 7, 2015

The Necessity of Web Accessibility

How and Why Your Business’ Website Should Allow Fair and Equal Access

Ecommerce sites and components should be written and engineered in a way that allows those with disabilities fair and equal access to the content and information. SellPoints is striving to make better rich content while keeping the principles of web accessibility in mind.

The History

The World Wide Web was introduced in the 1980s, and marked the beginning of our modern internet. Since the mid- 1990s, this infinite space of information, entertainment, and commerce has grown at an astounding rate and has become an everyday part of life.

The Issues

Despite all the advances the internet has made, businesses are still behind in prioritizing web accessibility for individuals with disabilities. This lack of accessibility makes it extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, for anyone with a visual, hearing, motor or, cognitive impairment to use their website. The result is a purposeful exclusion of nearly 20 percent of the population.  Although not everyone with a disability is restricted from accessing the internet, businesses must not take for granted what can be an overwhelming challenge for some people. Can you imagine trying to navigate a website without the use of a mouse? What if you could not understand what was being said in a video; would you watch it anyway? And what if you couldn’t see regular sized text and images without great difficulty, or even not all?

What To Do

Assistive technologies that enable web browsing for people with visual, hearing and motor impairments is essential.

*Screen reading and screen magnification software, as well as refreshable braille displays, are used by the visually impaired.
*Closed Captions, as well as descriptive audio and video transcripts, allow the deaf to understand the content in a video.
*Keyboard overlays render text as braille characters on either a mainstream, or braille keyboard.
*Alternative input devices allow the user to access a computer, and navigate the web by any means available to them.

It’s important that websites and their content are designed and written with these assistive technologies in mind.

The last important category to remember is cognitive disability. These could range from Down Syndrome and Autism, to Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia. When considering the purpose of web accessibility, it’s more useful for the developer to focus on the functional aspect, rather than the clinical aspect. The developer may not understand all of the challenges faced by someone with autism, or dementia; but they can design something around meeting the needs of people with the inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information, or difficulty with problem solving, or mathematics.

Final Thought

It’s becoming more relevant and important for businesses to show accountability and commit to making the web accessible to everyone. It begins with awareness and understanding the issues. In addition, leadership must express solidarity with these policies and procedures that meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 guidelines, as well as WAI-ARIA (Web Access Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) set forth by W3C.


WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
WCAG 2.0: The new W3C accessibility guidelines evaluated
Standard on Web Accessibility

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