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Web Accessibility Is Much More Than Showing Empathy To Disabled Persons

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Charlie Brown
October 09, 2019

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown has written 11 articles for WebKnowHow.
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Today, life revolves around the web because it has become an essential resource that impacts our daily lives. Whether it is apps or websites, we are dependent on the internet in some way to make our living more comfortable. This makes it very important to ensure that sites not only remain within reach of one and all but also people should also get equal opportunities in using websites for gathering information and interacting with it. To gain full access to various areas of life from education, employment, and healthcare to buying goods, entertainment, and availing government services people are dependent on access to websites. Unfortunately, the disabled population across the world often finds it difficult to use sites like any other average person because of issues of accessibility.

It is crucial to ensure full accessibility to the web to allow disabled persons to actively participate in activities that help them lead a regular life and improve their experience of living. The term web accessibility has wide ramifications because it means much more than just accessing a web page. Opening a web page is the basic requirement but being able to use the resource through meaningful interaction is more important to derive its benefits.

What is web accessibility?

Incorporating special features and applications into websites to enhance its functionalities and make it easy for disabled persons to interact with the website elements is what constitutes web accessibility. It should include features that enable visually impaired people to understand the text and images. Those who suffer from hearing disabilities should enjoy audios and videos like any average person. Even those who have physical difficulties in operating computers should be able to surf the web without any hindrance.  The actions taken for ensuring web accessibility does not only good for disabled people but also enhances the overall user experience. It helps to improve website performance and boosts business gains.

The impact of web accessibility on the disabled

People with permanent and temporary physical disabilities benefit from better web accessibility because it brings them at par with any other average person when using the web.

Screen readers help the visually impaired – The first step in making websites accessible to all is to ensure that the text should be compatible with screen readers, a technological aid that assists the visually impaired to access information from the web. Even if you have incorporated the feature in your website to check its functionality, you must use an accessibility checker periodically as recommended on the website https://siteimprove.com/en-us/accessibility/website-accessibility-checker/. Screen readers are programs that help to read out texts aloud so that the visually impaired can comprehend it.  The technology allows independent surfing of sites by visually impaired people as they can listen to the text to gather information from websites.

Videos and audios come to life for the hearing impaired – Videos and audios can pose problems for those who have problems with hearing and are either completely deaf or suffer from impaired hearing. To make the web features fully accessible to them, web developers incorporate audio and video transcripts so that it overcomes the difficulties faced by those with hearing problems as they can read the text to understand what the video is all about.

Screen reader compatible navigations aid the physically impaired – Keyboards are the only navigation device that you must never try to make changes to.  Keyboards must be completely compatible with screen readers so that people with physical infirmities can conveniently use computers to access websites.

Technology is vastly changing the lives of disabled persons by ensuring better website accessibility as innovations, and new opportunities await them. But it is never easy to create a technology that everyone can use, including those with special needs. To ensure all-round accessibility to websites and the internet, it is not just enough to use the right technology. But it is equally essential to ensure that it functions uninterruptedly for which accessibility checking and testing become very important.

The need for accessibility testing

To ensure that your efforts in ensuring accessibility to websites for one and all including the disabled persons do not go waste, you must rely on periodic accessibility testing. Your website might have features and applications like screen readers, screen magnification software, special keyboards for communication besides working on computers, and speech recognition software. But whether those features are always functional is what you must ensure by doing accessibility testing that encompasses both regular and disabled users. 

Performing accessibility testing

To carry out performance testing, you must manually examine individual pages as well as test individual functions like online form submissions and product searches.  A lot of tools and software programs for evaluating web accessibility are also available. There is often a debate about the feasibility of using a web accessibility tool that automates the process. It is not an easy task to create and maintain accessible web content which can constitute a tremendous volume that becomes difficult to check manually. Using an automated tool can speed up the process. Manual testing should also be a part because it is not possible to automate everything. For covering vast amounts of content quickly, automation is a fast and cost-effective method, but manual testing is more effective for lesser content.

Good for business too

With a focus on accessibility, companies can tap into the unexplored market dominated by the disabled population. It increases the traffic flow to websites that generates more leads and higher conversions and paves the path for business growth. By ensuring accessibility, businesses can expand their reach without venturing into new markets. They can unearth the potential that lay hidden among the disabled population within the market they currently operate.

More accessibility means more inclusiveness that leads to higher user satisfaction which can improve search rankings and boost your online marketing efforts. Most importantly, providing better accessibility is a way to show respect to disabled people by acknowledging their rights to information and technology in the same way as any average person. It is a way to tell your audience how much you care for them.

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