Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of making websites usable for people of all abilities. The main goal of web accessibility is to ensure that website users can access all content, regardless of their abilities. Web accessibility is important because it helps break down barriers preventing people with disabilities from participating equally in society.
According to the Canadian Survey on Disability, 6.2 million Canadians aged 15 and over have a disability. Many of these people use the Internet daily and rely on accessible websites to acquire information. It is essential to understand their needs and the underlying issues that can make a website difficult or impossible for them to use.

Designing websites with accessibility in mind can make the website experience better for everyone. This article will explain why we need to give more importance to web accessibility.

Ensuring all users can have an equivalent experience when browsing the Internet is a fundamental right.

Making a website accessible is critical to ensuring that everyone can access the information it provides, regardless of ability. There are several criteria to make a website accessible and guarantee everyone has an enjoyable experience. These include making written content easy to read and understandable for tools like screen readers used by blind people and including subtitles and transcriptions with videos. Navigation should be optimized for people with reduced mobility, the elderly, and those less familiar with technologies. Websites should be accessible to people who use older devices or screens with low contrast levels, and to the many people with temporary disabilities.

We can make the Internet and its services accessible to everyone, regardless of their software preferences, native language, culture, location, age or physical and mental abilities.

Many countries and governments already have regulations to ensure that websites and software meet accessibility standards. Legally and morally, as a website owner, you are responsible for respecting accessibility standards to make your content accessible to all without discrimination.

To maximize web accessibility, the W3C classifies their recommendations into three categories:
  • website design,
  • technical development, and
  • content.

Increasing web accessibility with inclusive design

Inclusive or universal design is a creative approach that considers human diversity. Digital products and services become accessible to everyone and do not require customization by users to use them. Being inclusive in design means understanding how and why different parts of the population are excluded from certain basic social activities.

Designing inclusively also means recognizing that there are temporary disabilities that affect us all. For example, when you wear a cast, are in a noisy place, or are riding on a moving bus.

The design of your website will have a significant impact on the accessibility of its content. Here are a few things to keep in mind while designing a more inclusive website:

A well-structured content
The website content should have a logical structure by respecting certain semantic principles. But what is most important here is the hierarchy of the text (using Hn tags). It will assist someone who reads titles and subtitles to understand the context and a logical overview of the page content.

Proper spacing between clickable elements
Avoid false manipulations by providing sufficient spacing between the different clickable elements. This design tip will benefit those with Parkinson's disease and people commuting on the bus surfing the web from their phones.

High contrast and distinct colours
Make sure that the contrasts of text, colours and images are sufficient. Free online tools are available to help you measure the level of contrast of your website elements, so don't hesitate to use them. Remember to keep your colours distinct and avoid using similar hues next to each other, as people with colour blindness may find it difficult to distinguish one shade from another. Use text rather than colour codes for navigation, and always make sure you're providing essential information in text form. Keep in mind that your visitors may be using older devices or be in a situation where contrast is not optimal, such as using a phone outdoors in direct sunlight.

Choose typefaces that help increase readability
Choosing the right fonts is essential in web design because fonts can affect readability. It's necessary to use classic, easy-to-read fonts that will be readable on large and small screens. Additionally, ensure your website's layout can adjust when users enlarge the font using their browser settings.

Clear and straightforward interactive elements
There is a lot of jargon in web accessibility, such as the word affordance. In web design, affordance means the ability of an object to suggest its use. This approach is essential to avoid confusion and frustration. To make things easier for the user, ensure any interactive components are easy to understand and use. In other words, make sure the buttons look like buttons! Each clickable element should include text explaining the action to the user.

Intuitive navigation
Don't try to be creative or think outside the box regarding navigation. Users must be able to find the elements in the same places they are used to seeing them. That's why we always find the language choice button or the shopping cart icon in the same places when we navigate websites. Doing so allows users to navigate your website more intuitively and will help them complete their desired tasks easily.

Minimize movements and animations
Websites are becoming increasingly interactive, and in the last few years, many animations and movement effects have emerged among the new web trends. Concerning web accessibility, effects involving parallax backgrounds, scrolling, mouse-over capabilities, or other scroll-based animations should be avoided or used moderately. Even if there are ways to allow specific movements or animations while respecting accessibility standards, you should anticipate that some visitors may choose to disable these effects in their browsers. Ensure this doesn't interfere with content navigation.

It is time to make the web more inclusive and accessible

Accessibility is not a new concept, but it has taken on a more critical role as the Internet becomes more integral to our lives. With so much information and opportunity available online, we must ensure everyone can access these resources. Website owners especially should guarantee equal and optimal access to digital content. Let's make the web more inclusive, accessible and useful for everyone.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of web accessibility and its importance. If you have any questions or want help making your website more accessible, please don't hesitate to reach out!

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