According to a new research study, eight of every ten Americans own two or more digital devices. For many, this can include a laptop, mobile phone, desktop computer, tablet, and more.
And as the number of technological devices per user increases, so does the need for website accessibility. With the vast majority of the populace owning digital devices, it is safe to assume that a sizeable number of them live with a disability or impairment of some sort.
Due to this, web accessibility standards have become more of a concern for both companies and search engines like Google and Bing. Many of the massive social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and more are updating their accessibility marketing features to accommodate all people. For example, Instagram, the popular photo sharing and posting app, has recently updated their accessibility standards by including alternative text in the place of their pictures.
Let’s examine some of the aspects of this topic, specifically the role of WCAG compliance.
What Is WCAG? A Look at Web Accessibility Standards
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a list of requirements and standards that all web content platforms are required to adhere to. The guidelines are characterized by four outstanding attributes which include the ability to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Let’s take a look at each one a little closer.
For a website to be considered as perceivable, WCAG compliance guidelines require that:
- There is a text alternative for every piece of nontext content (such as pictures, videos, etc.)
- Text is to be presented in simpler and easier-to-read layouts
- Content is to be easier to see and hear (regarding the foreground and background)
To meet requirements that are considered operable, the guidelines require:
- A specific level of functionality from a keyboard
- Enough time given to read pieces of content
- Content that is not known to cause seizure-related episodes
- The site provides ways to help users navigate and understand where to find content
For the understandable aspect of the WCAG guidelines, sites need to ensure that:
- Content is readable
- Web pages operate in predictable ways
- Users are able to avoid and correct mistakes if made
The requirements for meeting the robust aspect of the WCAG compliance guidelines are as follows:
- Content must be able to be reliably interpreted by many users, including assisting technology programs
The Benefits of Accessibility Marketing
As web accessibility needs increase, there is also a variety of benefits that can be provided to your website itself. These benefits include the following.
Search engines are not able to read the pictures and other media sources that you display on your website. When a company adds keyword-focused alt text as a description for a picture or other media source, the text then improves your SEO.
Broadening Market Penetration
Users who can freely and easily access your content will enhance the amount of traction brought to your website. By implementing accessibility into your site, you help to attract a broader audience and therefore are able to make an impact on a variety of target markets.
Improving Usability for All
Upon correcting and changing accessibility and usability, you may find other areas on your website that were in need of a closer look. By going through and checking every single element of your site, you can make sure that it has high usability so that users will be more likely to revisit.
Since most companies don’t intend to discriminate against certain groups of people, it is extremely important to be aware of the content and layout of your site to avoid giving a negative impression.
Generating Positive Public Relations
Word gets around. If you have a website that is easy to navigate, read and understand, your users will be more likely to share content from the site.
Maintaining a positive reputation is crucial in the business and education worlds, and by supplying a functional and WCAG-compliant website you’ll be well on your way to ensuring customer satisfaction.
How Do I Know My Site Is Accessible?
One of the easiest ways to check that your site complies with the rules of accessibility is by installing a validator. A validator, also known as a web accessibility evaluation tool, simply skims your website to find places where accessibility may be lacking.
The tool, however, will not correct your mistakes. It will tell you where and what needs to be fixed. You will need a talented web designer to determine the simplest and most efficient way to correct the mistakes, if any.