Browsing the internet can be a mundane and uncomplicated task for most individuals. But what if you have a user that finds it challenging to see screens clearly, hear audio files, or even click the mouse?
Here are three reasons why an accessibility interface should be used on your website:
1) An accessibility interface promotes inclusivity among its users
What is accessibility?
In this day and age, the internet is a massive part of almost everyone’s life. Over 4.9 billion people, or about 63% of the human population, are internet users. On a daily basis, it is used to interact with people through social media, purchase items online, and book travel or restaurant reservations. As much as it does make lives easier for the majority, certain populations also use and rely on the internet to perform certain daily tasks, such as persons with disabilities.
Accessibility is defined as having products or services that can be used by ALL people — with or without a disability. It is vital to consider how the design and interface can affect a person’s usage of websites. Having an accessibility interface on one’s website allows each user to access that is not limited by his or her disability.
Who Would Benefit from This?
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
– Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.
It’s imperative to know the people directly affected by accessibility interfaces. This kind of practice in designing a website is for:
- People who are blind or with visual impairments
- People who are deaf or with auditory impairments
- People with learning and cognitive disabilities
- People with neurological impairments
- People with speech impairments
- People with physical disabilities and injuries
In addition, the Web Accessibility Initiative also considers users without disability, such as:
- People who use devices such as phones or smartwatches that have small screens, different input modes, etc.
- Older people who start to have diminishing abilities due to aging
- People having “temporary disabilities” (i.e., broken arm or lost glasses)
- People having “situational limitations” (i.e., an environment where listening to audio is impossible)
- People with a slow Internet connection or who have limited or expensive bandwidth
2) Having an Accessible Website is Mandated by Law
Web accessibility is mandated by the law, and there are guidelines created to adhere to it. It is illegal not to provide services that are accessible to people with disabilities. Many governments have based their accessibility laws on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG.
For example, in the US, under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III, PWDs are protected from discrimination from “public accommodation,” which includes websites. When individuals with businesses that have a website are sued, they would usually be required to adhere to the WCAG compliance.
In addition, government websites or any organization receiving federal funding should also comply with accessibility requirements. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires these websites to be accessible to all users.
Four main principles govern the WCAG and a simple description of the guidelines:
The user of the website should be able to perceive the contents and information as it is laid out in a presentable and discernible manner.
For example, it can allow users with hearing impairments to distinguish foreground speech and sounds from background sounds. For those visually-challenged, they can easily see contents by having a simple layout with customizable fonts and distinguishable foreground words/images from the background.
The interface and navigation of a website must be operable. Meaning, the user can easily find its way around the website and use it. It includes ensuring that functionalities can be used on a keyboard along with a mouse or trackpad. It also entails providing a variety of options to interact with the website.
Another consideration here is the prohibition of elements that may induce seizures.
In a very clear sense, all the controls and contents on a website must be understandable to the user. The content should be readable. The navigation texts should be consistent and predictable to avoid confusion and have input assistance to minimize errors.
Content must be robust enough to work with current and future technologies. It includes making the website compatible across multiple user agents and devices.
3) An Accessibility Interface Gives a More Personalized User Experience
There are two main methods in making a website PWD-friendly, namely: through a template or through an accessibility interface.
Using a template is one option that entails having a website that caters to ALL people by default — both with or without disabilities. Convenience-wise, it is a probable option as users no longer need to select accessibility features, although it is important to note the drawbacks that come with a template such as its design restriction, impact on the speed and performance of the site, and the accessibility adjustments that come with website changes, additions, and updates.
Using an accessibility interface, on the other hand, provides an experience that is personalized and tailor-fit to the user’s needs.
For example, a user has dyslexia. It is a learning disability primarily involving language. When one has dyslexia, they may have difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling. With an accessibility interface, the user can customize their screen to low contrast, pastel-colored background and choose fonts that are san serif to make reading easier. They can also choose to lessen the graphics and audio noise of the screen to prevent information overload. All these tweaks then provide the user with dyslexia a better browsing experience.
Another example is a user having a visual impairment. He or she can maximize the use of voice over features of a website that would allow him or her to browse through it with ease. Also, the user can adjust font sizes to make it larger and change colors to make it brighter.
These are examples that an average user may not even need to worry about. But, to users with disabilities, it can empower them, knowing that these websites cater to their needs. It allows them to have a sense of independence.
With this said, having an accessibility interface solves some of the drawbacks of a template.
The design restriction is no longer an issue. Users can change the font size, magnification, and brightness while retaining the main design for an average user due to an accessibility interface’s personalized feature.
The speed and performance are also better as only the user’s necessary adjustments will consume the scripts and styles.
Closing Thought: A Final Word on Accessibility Interfaces
All these considerations aim to provide one main thing, to give your user a significant, positive, and inclusive experience, regardless of their personal limitations. A website with an accessibility interface can cater to each users’ individual needs. Good thing some tools can help you create an accessibility interface on your website.
AccessAPal is an effective tool that can ensure your website is in line with WCAG 2.1 & ADA Compliance. Start ensuring a superb experience for all of your website visitors with AccessAPal.