Web Accessibility Policy: Best Practices

  • 24.05.2021

Everything we need in our day-to-day lives can now be found online. Various products, services, even recreational activities are available at the tip of our fingertips. Websites and mobile apps are essential if we want access to these products and services.

However, many websites and pages worldwide have accessibility barriers that make them difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to use. Companies that want to remove these digital barriers must refer to a web accessibility policy of their choice.

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility basically means that websites, tools, and technologies used on websites and apps are designed so that people with disabilities can use them with little to no difficulty. Adjustments should be made to cover a wide range of disabilities, such as:

  • auditory
  • visual
  • speech
  • physical
  • neurological
  • cognitive

There are actually many technical barriers that hinder those with disabilities from perceiving basic information and performing basic digital functions. Other sectors of people will also benefit from the removal of digital barriers, such as:

  • people on mobile phones, smartwatches, smart TVs, other devices with small screens and limited input modes
  • older people who are not so familiar with the use of gadgets
  • those who are temporarily impaired, such as having a broken arm or lost glasses
  • those with environmental limitations, like too much sunlight or being in a location where they cannot listen to audio
  • lastly, people with limited bandwidth and internet connection

Why is it important?

Ensuring web content is accessible is very important. In some countries, compliance is even required and mandated by law. The worldwide web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of our day-to-day life – education, employment, commerce, health care, recreational, government, research – you name it. Web accessibility is essential to provide equal access and opportunity to all.

Access to information and communication technologies (ICT), including the world wide web, is defined as a basic human right in our current society. This was defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Similarly, the United States has a civil rights law called the Americans with Disabilities Act or the ADA. The ADA aims to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Throughout the years, the ADA was amended to cover digital spaces as well as physical ones. A company or organization open to the general public must meet such standards and thus be ADA compliant.

Accessibility is not easily achieved, so accessibility standards are crucial reference points.

What is the best website accessibility policy?

There are many website accessibility policies. It depends on several components working together, including web technologies, web browsers, other “user agents,” authoring tools, etc.

Articles on accessibility are available online from various institutions. These cover most aspects of planning, assessing, and implementing electronic accessibility. Entities required

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative developed technical specifications, guidelines, and supporting resources to describe accessibility solutions. These are universally accepted standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and are more commonly known as WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

What is the WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

The WCAG defines how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, providing a common definition and easily understood standards. Web content covers everything found on a website or mobile app – including all information, media (images, videos, and audio), even the code or markup that defines structure and presentation.

The primary goal of WCAG is to provide a standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and even governments. WCAG version 2.0 replaced WCAG version 1.0. But the latest, WCAG 2.1, covers a wider range of recommendations to make web content more accessible. Content that conforms to WCAG 2.1 also conforms to WCAG 2.0.

Following the WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 guidelines, ensure that your web content is more accessible for a wider group of people who have conditions. Technical accommodations are included in catering to blindness, low vision, deafness, limited movement, speech impairments, photosensitivity, or even combinations of these.

WCAG 2.1 has Success Criteria that are written as testable statements that are not really technologically specific.

Apart from the levels of WCAG, they also have levels of conformance. They are categorized into three to meet the needs of different groups and situations: A (lowest), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest). Conformance to the higher levels indicates conformance at lower levels. Level A sets a minimum level of accessibility and does not achieve broad accessibility for many situations.

It is then recommended to meet at least Level AA for all web-based information.

What are the principles under WCAG?

Meeting WCAG accessibility standards ensure the web content is aligned with their four principles, namely:

#1. Perceivable
  • Text alternatives (commonly known as “alt text”) should be provided so that text information can be changed into other forms, as needed, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, etc. Users may have assistive technologies that help them read alt text if they cannot see images or headings.
#2. Operable
  • Under WCAG, the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform. All functionality should be available from a keyboard.
  • The content designed should not cause seizures or trigger any similar conditions on the users.
#3. Understandable
  • Text content should be readable and understandable. The web page should appear and operate in predictable ways without confusing the user.
  • Input assistance should also be provided to help users avoid and correct any navigational mistakes.
#4. Robust
  • Employees and web technicians should develop content that is robust enough to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of assistive technologies.
  • They should be compatible with current and future user agents.

Website accessibility will not only benefit your company when more people can access your content, but the steps toward inclusion will go a long way for users who have certain difficulties.