Web Accessibility

Making Websites Work for Everyone: A Beginner’s Guide to Web Accessibility

The internet lets people shop, learn, work, and play easily. However, websites can be hard for some people to see or use. Web accessibility means making websites work for all people. It helps people with disabilities visit sites. It also helps older folks with health issues use sites efficiently. Constructing accessible digital experiences remains an ethical and practical necessity that is still often overlooked amidst rapid technical progress.

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means making websites and mobile apps work smoothly for people disabled in different ways. It involves building websites properly through code and layout. This helps blind users read pages with special technologies. It helps deaf users see videos with captions. It helps people who can’t use a mouse navigate everything with just keyboards. Web accessibility makes using the web possible and pleasant for everyone.

Why Should You Care About Accessibility?

You might wonder why you need to bother with web accessibility. Here are the top reasons it helps all people:

It Lets More People Visit Your Site

These web accessibility statistics show that Over 20% of people have a disability, making surfing tricky in some way. Accessibility invites more visitors to engage.

It’s Great for Business

More customers and clients can patronize your services through accessible websites and apps. Better experiences increase sales and loyalty.

In Some Places, Laws Demand It

Many areas make accessibility compulsory to protect rights. Stay compliant with simple design choices.

It Improves Experiences for Everyone

Curb cuts help people in wheelchairs and folks pushing strollers. Closed captioning helps deaf people watch videos but also helps noisy areas. Accessibility features help more than just disabled folks.

Web accessibility supports digital equality worldwide for people facing all kinds of permanent and temporary situations.

Who All Benefits from Accessible Sites?

Here are some examples of people who rely on properly designed web accessibility features:

Blind People

Sites needing keyboard navigation, readable code frameworks, text descriptions, and speech capability help blind users fully and independently interact with content.

Deaf People

Captions make videos usable for those with hearing issues. Icon labels, notifications, and transcripts also improve site comprehension.

Folks with Limited Mobility

Those unable to use a mouse need sites working completely through keyboard commands.

People with Learning Disabilities

Simple page layouts, clear writing, and easily interpreted icons assist users with comprehension differences grasping details accurately on pages.

Older People

Declining vision and motor skills come with aging. Customizable font sizes, navigation consistency, and compatibility with assistive devices give back independence.

Anyone in a Tricky Spot

Loud room? Bright glare? Broken wrist? Accessible sites still work despite situational limitations that people without impairments face temporarily.

Four Foundations of Accessibility

International web accessibility guidelines categorize standards into four core principles that effectively designed sites must achieve:

Perceivable Access

Users must access all content and interface elements in ways that work optimally for them, whether via assistive technologies, captions, audio descriptions, or highly legible visual design. This includes:

  • Screen reader tags make visuals understandable when read aloud
  • Text equivalents for images, charts, and multimedia
  • Captions and transcripts for audio/video content
  • Customizable text sizing and color contrast
  • Logical, consistent page layouts and navigation

Adaptable content presentation allows users to perceive information differently to customize experiences suiting their needs.

Operable Use

All features and functions, like navigation menus, form controls, and interactive elements, work easily through keyboard commands, voice input, or alternative assistive devices. This facilitates motor-impaired users while also benefiting mobile visitors. Operability also means:

  • Avoiding confusing interfaces where layers obstruct key elements
  • Eliminating time limits forcing rushed interactions
  • Building logical tab orders for keyboard navigation
  • Confirming mobile-friendly tap target sizes

Intuitive navigation puts core tasks within easy reach of more users.

Understandable Clarity

Both site design and writing make interfaces intuitively simple to use on the first visit. Jargon gives way to clear commonly used terms in digestible writing. Consistent layouts locate key tasks predictably. Understandability involves:

  • Organizing content and tasks logically
  • Explaining features concisely without technical terms
  • Summarizing complex processes in simplified steps
  • Grouping related elements through layout, headings, and spacing

Straightforward interfaces minimize confusion and frustration in accessing services.

Robust Flexibility

With technology rapidly evolving, accessible sites build robust foundations, adapting well as new tools emerge. Flexible code integrates smoothly with leading assistive technologies as capabilities advance. Developers future-proof access through:

  • Semantic HTML markup identifiable to assistive technologies
  • ARIA attributes extending information conveyed to screen readers
  • Responsive designs adapting across devices and browsers
  • Regular assistive technology testing

Building durable access prevents exclusion as innovation continues progressing.

Starting to Improve Web Accessibility

Wondering how to start making your website or mobile app more accessible? Here are simple starter steps:

Add Text Descriptions to Images

Blind users cannot see photos or GIFs. Give them the content’s meaning through screen reader-readable alt-text tags.

Caption Videos Cleary

Deaf viewers can comprehend video content easily by reading provided text transcripts that are synced accurately.

Make Everything Navigable by Keyboard

Hand issues operating mice mandate keyboard-only site navigation capability.

Use High Contrast Color Palettes

Visually impaired users need intense background/foreground color contrasts to distinguish text and objects clearly.

Structure Pages Clearly and Logically

Well-organized simple layouts with clear writing prevent confusion, assisting users with cognitive conditions.

Test Site Interaction with Assistive Tools

Navigating pages wearing sound-blocking headphones or vision-obscuring glasses reveals gaps.

Listen to Disabled Users

Productive feedback comes from the people who need improved access most. Hear their voices.

Accessibility Demands More than Just Checklists

While technical mandates exist to improve disabled access through coding and captions, embracing inclusiveness matters more.

Lead with Empathy

Identify genuine unmet user needs and build compassion into designs. Focus on the excluded folks who struggle most with using non-accessible spaces daily.

Adopt Flexible Mindsets

Rigid designers create one-size-fits-all sites, which fail many. Accessible digital spaces suit more comprehensive physical, sensory, and neurological wiring arrays.

Promote Inclusive Digital Spaces

Accessibility supports welcoming more people comfortably. However, true inclusion requires confronting biases head-on to transform social norms at deeper levels.

The Surprising Business Case for Accessibility

Beyond supporting social justice, web accessibility drives performance metrics when executed thoughtfully.

Expanded Market Reach

Accessibility allows companies to tap into a wider customer base by dismantling barriers faced by differently-abled segments wishing to transact through inaccessible sites.

Multiplied Loyalty

Frustrated site experiences drive visitors away permanently. Smooth accessibility drives higher engagement and sales from loyal repeat customers.

Reputation and Trust Boosts

Values-aligned accessibility efforts enhance public image and PR, positioning businesses as progressive industry leaders committed to digital equality and innovation.

Search Engine Visibility Gains

Accessible, structured data improves on-page elements search engine bots rely on for indexed rankings, elevating discovery.

Accessibility lifts more voices while boosting bottom lines for organizations willing to learn, unlearn, and reach out empathetically to understand needs before executing perfect technical fixes and inclusive experience upgrades. Results benefit both disabled communities and companies wise enough to serve them fully.


As an ethical imperative, innovative business, and springboard for innovation, ensuring technology remains navigable regardless of impairments delivers positive impacts across industries and societies. But driving change requires galvanizing stakeholders at individual, organizational, and policy levels to transform mantras on universal access into measurable milestones collaboratively.

If you aspire to greater accessibility, begin discussions internally and externally. Review available technical guidance, converse on unique challenges users still face locally and systemically, identify achievable milestones, and improve iteratively. Progress accumulates over time through an accessibility mindset that sees accessibility as the norm rather than the exception.

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