For decades, a significant portion of the global population has increasingly embraced the digital realm, transitioning from early platforms like Gmail to the present reality of powerful, interconnected smartphones in our pockets. With the expansion of online resources and services in recent years, individuals have joined this trend even more. In fact, many essential services now prioritize online accessibility, prompting users to visit websites or utilize mobile applications, often providing additional benefits for online users.
However, accessing these websites and apps is not always easy or feasible for a considerable segment of the population. Unfortunately, these usability barriers often go unnoticed by the majority of people. As builders of the future’s interconnected digital world, we must recognize the ongoing and pressing need for web accessibility in the tools we create. This idea is gaining recognition within corporate leadership as more online businesses understand the impact of accessibility (or the lack thereof) on their customers and potential customer base.
A fundamental aspect of this comprehension is the understanding that accessible web applications are vital not only for individuals with disabilities but also for all internet users. Consequently, prioritizing accessibility has become an indispensable initial step in any online product or app development project. Keep reading below to find out what is web accessibility and why it is important.
What Do You Mean by Mobile App Accessibility?
Mobile accessibility encompasses a set of established practices aimed at enhancing the functionality of apps for individuals with various disabilities. By giving priority to accessibility, you can ensure that your app reaches a broad audience and reduce the risk of accessibility-related legal issues. Additionally, prioritizing accessibility offers long-term cost savings and improved user retention, among numerous other benefits.
To guarantee that your mobile app meets accessibility standards, specific guidelines are followed, including:
- Perceivable: User interface components and information should be presented in a manner that users can perceive.
- Operable: Users must be able to navigate and interact with the app’s user interface effectively.
- Understandable: Users should be able to comprehend how to use the user interface and the information provided.
- Robust: The app’s content must be robust enough to be accurately interpreted by assistive technologies and user agents.
What is Web Accessibility?
Digital accessibility, also known as web accessibility, refers to the capability of an app, software, or website to be easily accessed and used by individuals with disabilities affecting their hearing, vision, cognition, motor functions etc. To assist disabled people, various assistive technology-based tools, both hardware and software, have been developed to facilitate navigation and interaction with website content.
These assistive technology tools serve a similar purpose as service animals, as they help individuals interact and navigate within an environment presenting challenges due to their disabilities. Without the necessary software, individuals face greater difficulties and barriers that deject them from utilizing the space.
Importance Of Accessibility in App and Web Development
In the realm of app and web development, the concept of accessibility revolves around creating and constructing digital products that are usable and accessible to individuals of all abilities, including those with disabilities or impairments. This entails taking into account and incorporating features, functionalities, and design elements that promote equal access, usability, and inclusivity for everyone.
The significance of accessibility in the app and web development cannot be emphasized enough. Below are several fundamental reasons why it holds immense importance:
- Inclusivity and Equal Opportunity: Accessibility guarantees equal access and opportunities for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to participate fully in the digital realm and benefit from the information, services, and opportunities offered by digital platforms. By removing barriers, accessibility fosters inclusivity, ensuring that people of all abilities can engage in the digital world without limitations.
- Legal Obligations and Ethical Responsibilities: Numerous countries have implemented legislation and regulations that mandate accessibility for digital products. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) establish accessibility standards. By complying with these requirements, developers meet their legal obligations and uphold ethical principles of fairness and social responsibility.
- Increased Reach of Users: By placing importance on accessibility, developers can expand their user base. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion people globally live with some form of disability. By ensuring the accessibility of apps and websites, businesses can cater to this substantial demographic, thereby broadening their potential customer base.
- Enhanced User Experience: Accessibility features frequently contribute to an improved user experience, benefiting not only individuals with disabilities but also a wider range of users. For instance, captions and transcripts for videos can be valuable in noisy environments or for users who prefer consuming content without sound. By taking accessibility into account, developers often enhance usability, provide clear navigation, and deliver well-structured content, making the product more user-friendly for all individuals.
- SEO Advantages: Search engine optimization (SEO) enhances visibility and discoverability. Numerous accessibility practices, such as incorporating alternative text for images, utilizing descriptive link texts, and structuring content appropriately, align with SEO best practices. By implementing accessibility features, websites can improve search rankings and attract organic traffic.
- Brand Image and Customer Loyalty: Showcasing a dedication to accessibility can bolster a company’s brand image and cultivate customer loyalty. When users perceive a brand as inclusive and attentive to diverse needs, they are more inclined to place trust in and remain loyal to that brand, even when compared to its competitors.
- Future-Proofing: Giving priority to accessibility during the development phase safeguards your digital products for the future. As technology advances, new devices, platforms, and assistive technologies continue to emerge. By incorporating accessibility from the start, you can adapt more seamlessly to these advancements, ensuring that your app or website remains accessible and fully functional across various environments.
How to Improve Web Accessibility?
As an integral part of the user experience, a developer can enhance web and app accessibility by incorporating certain principles during website construction or redesign. This approach ensures that individuals with disabilities can access websites with the assistance of assistive technologies.
- The design must cater to people with various abilities and is marketable to all users.
- The design should accommodate a wide range of abilities and preferences.
- The design must be simple to understand, independent of the person’s expertise, experience, linguistic prowess, or degree of attention.
- Regardless of the surrounding environment and the user’s sensory capabilities, the design should convey crucial information to consumers.
- The design must minimize risks and the negative consequences of unintended or accidental actions.
- The design must have the capacity to be used efficiently, comfortably, and effortlessly.
- The design should allow users to approach, access, handle, and utilize the content in an acceptable size and area, regardless of their body position, size, or mobility.
Moreover, development teams may adhere to the guidelines to ensure that people with various disabilities can access and utilize their websites, applications, and other digital assets.
In-app and web development, accessibility is a legal and ethical obligation and a pathway to crafting inclusive and user-friendly experiences that cater to a broader audience. By embracing accessibility, developers have the power to make a positive difference, enhance their products, and contribute to the creation of a more inclusive digital landscape.