There are around 4.72 billion internet users today. It is perhaps the most diverse body to exist on the planet right now. There is no other place where you can see such diversity of language, culture, appearance, capability, and understanding.
As webmasters and creators, it becomes an intrinsic responsibility for us to create accessible websites for the people. Accessible websites mean websites that can be used by anyone and everyone so that people can cross over the barriers of communication and interaction put forth by the difference in culture, capability, knowledge, and skill.
Today, around 1/3rd of the world’s population lives with some of the other kinds of disability. Out of these 1 billion people, many of them might likely land up on your website. Your website should be accessible to these people. It is your responsibility and an excellent opportunity for you to have a more significant audience segment. And for that, you should always choose the best WordPress Development Company.
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Web Accessibility & Its Benefits for Individuals & Businesses
The web is a place where people can interact and transact, crossing the barriers put forth by hardware, software, language, location, or ability. Web accessibility is all about creating websites that manifest this principle and allow people to communicate and interact beyond these barriers. According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of W3C web accessibility caters to people with the following disabilities:
However, web accessibility is not limited to this. It also benefits people without disabilities. For example, it makes websites responsive and easier to use on devices like smartphones, tablets, and other small-screen devices; it also makes it easier for older people to use with changing abilities. It also allows easing the situational limitations like bright sunlight, smooth environment noises, etc.
Web accessibility’s benefits are not limited to individuals. As a business or a creator, having accessible websites benefits you in multiple ways. One significant benefit you receive is that you can cater to traffic that websites not optimized for accessibility can’t. This significantly widens your audience segment and exposes you to more traffic.
Creating websites that are web-accessible websites also creates an overall good user experience (UX) and satisfactory interaction. This usually converts into a better search engine ranking, increased conversion rates, and increased return visitors.
There are various minor tweaks and tips that you can deploy to make a more accessible website for all users. Let’s dive in!
Evaluate Your Current Accessibility
You can begin by evaluating where your website stands right now in terms of accessibility. It allows you to see what elements of your website are already optimized and which need attention. An easy way to do it is by using the WAVE tool by WebAIM. This tool evaluates your site for various Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors.
It gives you a detailed report of elements that are optimized for accessibility and the ones that need your attention. Like in this example, I evaluated a website built on a WIX, which allowed me to review the website builder of WIX for accessibility. Then, you can simply put the URL of your website in the search bar and literally sit back while unfolding the report in front of you.
The best thing about this is that it tells you what your site is lacking and gives an explanation for the issue, which provides you with an idea of how you can solve the problem.
Choose Your CMS Wisely
A lot of accessibility issues can be resolved by just choosing the suitable CMS. The right CMS will offer more accessibility features and will be more inclusive. WordPress is one of the best CMS and offers amazing accessibility support and features.
They have a dedicated WordPress Accessibility Team which strives to raise the standards for accessibility. They dedicate their efforts to creating the WordPress core as accessible and user-friendly as possible. They also educate developers on creating accessible themes and plugins via various forums like their accessibility blog, conferences, webinars, and workshops. People who are learning to blog, or older people who want to create an online blog, have a steep learning curve. WordPress allows them to flatten this curve to an extent and reduce the pain points that they may have.
Employ Accessibility-Ready Themes
WordPress offers various accessibility-ready themes which are easy to deploy. With a one-click installation, you can get your website accessibility-ready. It will be too bold to say that these themes take care of everything, but they definitely take care of many elements. In addition, it reduces your effort and time on some very basic accessibility features.
WordPress checks each theme in its directory for various accessibility factors before labeling it as accessibility-ready. For example, a theme has to be compatible with the keyboard alone, and there should be proper heading structures, clear contrasting color schemes, etc.
You can check for a WordPress validated theme in their accessibility-ready directory. Currently, there are around 117 themes that are validated as accessibility-ready in this directory.
Accessible Navigation Menus
Many people might find it difficult to use a mouse due to some visual or physical impairment. Creating accessible navigation menus can be of help to these people. For one, your menus should have a logical structure. It should not take more than 2-3 steps to access the desired core information from the main menu.
By accessible menus, it is also implied that these menus can be used via keyboard or speech recognition alone.
If your theme doesn’t support accessible menus by default, you need not worry. You can use a plugin like Superfish, which supports accessible drop-down menus. In addition, it supports touch devices, keyboard accessibility, and various other useful features.
Use Alt Text for Images
Basically, a text which is used for allowing the search engines to interpret the image and let people with visual impairment know what the image is about. This two-way purpose of alt text makes it an imperative element to optimize.
A search engine cannot interpret the image as humans do. Adding alt text to the images and captions in the videos allows the search engine to understand what the media file is about; it allows for better crawling. This directly impacts your SEO.
Alt-text is also a huge accessibility factor. If a person cannot see the image due to an error or their own visual impairment, they can choose to hear the alt text, which gives them an idea of what the image is about. This allows people to interact better with websites.
Remember that though an accessible website helps you get better rankings and traffic, it also is a responsible behavior on your part and an inclusive step for people from all walks of life.
The web is a place of diversity and crossing the barriers put forth by it. Creating websites that are accessible for all makes the web a more inclusive place. It also allows you to leverage the most out of the web and contribute to it in the same stride. Also be sure to learn more about 10 places from where you can hire an experienced developers or you can hire dedicated WordPress developers from us.
We hope this article introduced you to the importance and benefits of web accessibility and equipped you with tools to create your accessible websites.