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Nearly 90 percent of Americans use the internet: it’s becoming near indispensable for our everyday lives. Though it may not play as big a part as food, water, and shelter, the internet helps a majority of us secure those very necessities.
Many of us are able to use desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones to schedule a roofer, do our grocery shopping, or pay the water bill. But not all people with disabilities can without assistive technologies. Adaptive keyboards, voice recognition, joysticks, screen readers, and other accessibility tools have been developed to provide more accessibility for disabled users.
In place for more than three decades, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires accessibility considerations when it comes to jobs, structures, and other aspects of life. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that governmental bodies turned their attention to the internet and how it could be applied to accessibility problems.
Today, website accessibility is just as important as the accessibility of your brick-and-mortar establishment. Applying alt text to images, installing media players with accessibility support, and allowing users to increase the size of the font on your site are just a few of the ways to ensure all users can interact with your site.
At Webfor, we believe providing an accessible website is just the right thing to do: We incorporate World Wide Web Consortium guidelines on all new website builds. But it’s also becoming a fact of life. Major players in the education, entertainment, and restaurant industries have all been taken to court because of inaccessible websites.
California laws can even protect users with disabilities from other states if websites are based in that state. A Webfor accessibility audit on your existing site is an evaluation of how well a website supports the needs of web users with disabilities.
The audit and evaluation process will provide and present actions and recommendations to assure the website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) success criteria and techniques. Although these guidelines can be confusing, we provide easy-to-understand solutions.
Do images, videos, and audio files contain alternative options to allow people with disabilities access to the information?
Are your color schemes easy to digest, do header tags hinder screen reading software, and can the text on your webpages be increased without breaking site elements?
Can your website be used with only a keyboard and no mouse? Do you have content that flashes, scrolls, or moves without the ability to stop it? Can users skip the navigation?
Users need to be able to find content and orient themselves by ensuring that each web page has a descriptive title. Are links descriptive? Are there multiple ways to access different pages/information on a website, such as a search bar, navigation menus, sitemap, breadcrumbs, etc?
Functions of the site are easily identifiable, consistent navigation, form errors are easily recognized and addressed, and users must be able to control changes and inputs (a form can’t be submitted upon completion – it must be told to do so).
You wouldn’t balk at putting ramps at your entrance or handrails in your restrooms to improve accessibility for your customers as well as employees. Why neglect them when they come to your website? Doesn’t it make sense to help those looking to buy your products or use your services?
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Julia Maglione / Workforce Southwest Washington
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