Other Thoughts

With an estimated 48.9 million people in the US living with a disability, it’s crucial for companies to prioritize website accessibility.

First and foremost, it’s important from a values perspective—making the web accessible to the widest range of people is simply the right thing to do. It may also be important from a legal perspective. The Web Accessibility Initiative has established guidelines intended to afford everyone equal access to online content. Companies that fail to comply with their standards risk being sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This article presents an overview of what this all means and what you should consider to make your site more accessible to all users.

This is part 1 of a 4-part series on web accessibility. Stay tuned for:
• Content and accessibility
• Design and accessibility
• Development and accessibility

Where do accessibility standards come from?

How can we ensure that the web is accessible to as many people as possible? The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has established a series of testable criteria referred to as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The guidelines outline content, design and coding parameters that set the international accessibility standard.

Things to consider

Most disabilities fall into one (or more) of these four categories: visual, auditory, motor and cognitive. The following list explains some of the ways that developers and designers can make websites more accessible for people with each type of disability.

Visual

Major elements: Font sizing, colors, images
Tools: Screen readers, alt text describing elements on the page, ensuring a certain level of color contrast of text over background elements

Auditory

Major elements: Music, Video
Tools: Closed captioning, identifying media is present, giving the user controls over autoplay and pausing media

Motor

Major Elements: Limited to no use of keyboard
Tools: Ability to navigate a page via tab key

Cognitive

Major Elements: Website structure, clarity of ideas
Tools: Structure using HTML5, accessible language, clear hierarchy of headers and subsequent information

 

A great example of Situational vs Temporary vs Permanent Disability.  Implementing the most accessible user experience (for, say, opening a door) helps all three people in very different circumstances.

Why it matters to us

At Mangrove, we believe web accessibility is a human rights issue, and we are committed to designing and developing sites for the biggest audience possible. The majority of that work is done by our designers and developers behind the scenes, but we also keep accessibility in the forefront of conversations with our clients.

Getting started

At Mangrove, we always recommend the most accessible options for your website. If you’d like to assess the accessibility of your existing site, we can help there too. Our team offers accessibility audits with remediation suggestions to make your site more usable for every visitor. When you’re ready to talk through the options, get in touch.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for our blog series covering accessible content, design and development in more depth.

With special thanks to Mike Gifford from fellow Certified B Corp, Open Concept, and Jeanne Nauheimer, Dissemination Coordinator for the Center on Disability and Communication Inclusion at the University of Vermont for their advice and insight.