Understanding Web Accessibility 

Web accessibility is very similar to real-life physical accessibility. It precisely focuses on making a website operable and navigable especially for those who have disabilities and face difficulties while interacting with the web via any electronic device. To put it simply, web accessibility is a basic right to experience the web just like everyone else.

These requirements and challenges are what drive the need for web accessibility compliance. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) promotes that the web is designed for one and all irrespective of their location, language, race, culture, age, gender, physical, or mental ability.

This blog will throw light on the significant types of disability and describe the barriers that each group faces while interacting with the web.

Need For Online Accessibility

The Web and Internet as a whole is surely an important resource to learn about many aspects of life like education, government, commerce, employment, recreation, real estate, health care, and much more. From the perspective of the technological world, it means that all your interfaces (software, operating systems, and sites) should work for people with disabilities, and complement their commonly used assistive technologies like a screen reader, alternative keyboards, and pointing devices. If the website design fails to be flexible enough to work with such assistive devices, then there is nothing that the user can do to achieve successful use of the site. 

If the company fails to adhere to the web accessibility guidelines and decides to evade legal obligations, then it may have to face a lawsuit. We very well know accessibility can get costly legally when not taken care of properly. The answer to saving your business from the ongoing wave of web accessibility lawsuits is simple – make your web space accessible for all. Everyone should be given an equal opportunity to experience the web. It becomes the duty of organizations to create or modify their digital environments so that people with disabilities can use them effectively. 

Disabilities And Related Web Access Barriers 

People with disabilities do use the Internet and other technologies but at a level well below the rest of the population. The main reason for this has been that the Internet is fundamentally unfriendly to various kinds of disabilities. Let us try to have a basic understanding of the types of disabilities and the related barriers to access and use the internet.

Blindness

Blind people face extreme difficulty using websites due to the visual nature of the web. But, blindness itself has degrees and so there is a legal measure in several countries. Normally, blind people use a screen reader or a braille display to interact with websites. Let us look at the barriers in web content for people who are blind. 

The following web features create a barrier for people with blindness (not an exhaustive list):

  • Images (visual content) missing an appropriate alternate text
  • Badly marked-up pages and forms
  • Pages with non-unique or incorrect titles
  • PDFs created without keeping web accessibility in mind
  • Java, Flash, and other RIA functionality
  • Functional elements that do not allow control with a keyboard
  • Unstructured Content 
  • Inconsistent navigation
  • Time limits (insufficient time to complete tasks)
  • Unexpected and quick actions (e.g., redirect when an element receives focus)
  • Multimedia with no audio explanation

Low Vision

People with low vision may suffer from extreme forms of long-sightedness or short-sightedness. Their vision may even be blurred or unclear and may rely on a screen magnification program to increase the size and contrast of the text. As blind people, they would less likely use a screen reader though in some cases they may.

Common barriers for people with low vision include:

  • Fixed text height that cannot be resized
  • Inconsistent web navigation
  • Images of text that degrade or pixelate when magnified
  • Low contrast making it difficult to distinguish text from background
  • Time limits (insufficient time to complete tasks)
  • Unexpected and quick actions (e.g., redirect when an element receives focus)
  • Semantically connected items that are some distance apart – e.g., form labels 
  • Usage of color only to convey a meaning

Hearing Impairments or Deafness

Just like blindness, deafness manifests itself in infinite degrees – from a minor impairment to complete hearing loss. For most people who have a hearing issue, the greatest web barrier is audio content presented without text-based alternatives. 

Common barriers for them include:

  • Audio/multimedia file without caption/ transcript/text alternative 
  • Lack of ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation 
  • Very complex and/or vague language

Mobility-Related Disabilities

Mobility-related disabilities vary a lot. From a person being limited to a wheelchair for getting around to a person with an inability to use upper limbs and hands, this will include any type of disability that limits or prevents independent movement or full use of one or more body parts.

People with any motor impairment may use a specialized keyboard, switches, eye gaze systems, or head pointers.

They may face the following barriers while accessing the web:

  • Clickable areas that may be too small
  • Functional elements that do not allow control with a keyboard
  • Sites with insufficient time to complete tasks or demand quick response
  • Form objects or links (e.g., radio buttons) that have a small target area
  • Redirecting to another page or page element activated solely by changing values in a dropdown box 
  • Absence of visual skip links 

People With Learning or Cognitive Disabilities

These disabilities can range from having a mild reading difficulties to very severe cognitive impairments that may result in difficulty processing any complex online material. Learning disabilities can include language-based difficulties like dyslexia and other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.

They tend to face some of these common barriers:

  • Inconsistent navigation
  • Excessive or overly complex amount of content
  • Sites with insufficient time to complete tasks or demand quick response
  • Unstructured content (no visible sections, headings, topics, etc.)

Pivotal Accessibility – Where Web Accessibility Is An Emotion

At Pivotal Accessibility, we believe in making the digital world more inclusive. With a mission to expand the web potential for people with disabilities, we offer complete Web Accessibility Solutions for a wide range of products such as web apps, native apps, websites, and documents across a variety of platforms using Assistive Technologies.

Our highly skilled team of IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) Certified Accessibility Experts provide a variety of web accessibility evaluation services and products to a broad range of clients. We are dedicated to the creation and dissemination of accessible web content and technology worldwide.

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