4 Easy Ways to Avoid Cutting Corners with Website Accessibility
Accessibility should not be an afterthought, find out how your websites can stay accessible without cutting corners.
When it comes to accessibility, there is no magic solution to it and cutting corners is not to be recommended. It needs to be thought through and designed as part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It’s an education challenge – the testing part can’t be fully automated, not yet anyway (hopefully we will make some progress soon). People think it’s something you need to do as an afterthought.
Making a product accessible is making a better experience for all users, which means that even people without a disability have a better interaction with your product. For example, if you like to watch videos on your phone when it’s late at night, you don’t want to listen with the volume on to avoid disturbing others. Screen captions are helping all users to access information when they don’t hear but also when they are not interested in hearing the video content.
1. The plug-in conundrum and accessibility
For website accessibility, you can’t just add a plug-in and expect it to solve all your problems as that’s not going to solve all issues from the root level. These plugins might be good, but they can’t solve everything. For example, if an image doesn’t have the right alternative text (Alt text for short) they won’t correct the alt text for the image. Some screen readers don’t get the same access to a digital platform if a plug-in is embedded – making it worse for users who are visually impaired. These plugins were created so automated scans will not identify those accessibility issues.
Technically scanners will identify issues, but that doesn’t mean that your digital platform is accessible. The real problem starts with scanners, as automated scanners can only identify up to 30% of accessibility issues. While this is great, time can also be saved on manual testing. They cannot fully support all accessibility needs, and sometimes it feels like it’s all a game. Somebody made an easy way to identify compliance issues, there is a plugin to make those issues go away. Accessibility isn’t hard, just needs to be planned for.
2. The importance of education in accessibility
Education when it comes to accessibility is key; all members of digital design and product should participate and understand how they can do better. Once people understand the benefits of accessibility, there is no going back. Developers don’t need to spend extra time making software accessible, they just need to ensure that simple guidelines are being followed.
Making changes when there are other priorities in play means that accessibility is always at the bottom of the work pile. This usually changes quickly if the brand is being fined or sued for being inaccessible. But why create bad press if you can celebrate your successes and showcase what makes you better in a positive way?
3. The knowledge issue and accessibility
There are many courses available if you want to learn more about digital accessibility. We strongly recommend that it is part of your employee onboarding program, as different roles have different objectives. The requirements for accessibility should be set at the start for all digital projects, for example, design should be informed of what makes a better and more accessible design, and what is required when using different media types. Software should know how to code for accessibility, what ARIA tags, are and how easy it is to implement accessibility. Testing should know how to execute and document accessibility violations, which cases can be automated and how to ensure that issues are raised as early as possible.
If a product is accessible search engines will also give it a priority and give it a higher score. That means a better ROI and conversion rate for it. Accessibility also makes for a better UX, as it’s designed for easy access for all. Ensuring accessibility is being followed also increases your market share, as there are over 1 billion people across the globe with accessibility issues. In most countries that is between 15% to 20% of the population. It is important to understand that most of those people are not born with those issues, they often manifest themselves with age.
Allowing all users to access your products means that no one is out of reach, and you are targeting all users and not leaving anyone behind. Once your brand has positioned itself as accessible, you can trust those users to come back as they can rely on you to provide them with the service or product they need.
4. The use of overlays for greater accessibility
One potential challenge of using overlays for accessibility is that they may not be compatible with all assistive technologies. For example, some screen readers may not be able to interact with overlays, making it difficult for users who are blind or have low vision to access the content they contain.
Additionally, overlays can sometimes be intrusive and interrupt the user experience, particularly if they are triggered automatically without the user’s consent. This can be frustrating for users and may make them less likely to use the digital product or service.
Finally, it’s important to consider that overlays are not a replacement for creating accessible content in the first place. While overlays can be a useful tool for making existing content more accessible, they should not be relied upon as a substitute for designing and developing digital products with accessibility in mind from the outset. While overlays can be a useful tool for improving accessibility, they should be used carefully and in conjunction with other accessibility strategies to ensure that digital products are truly accessible to all users.