About a billion people experience disability in some form. Does your website offer the web accessibility needed for them to use it?
If disabled people can’t access your website, you’re missing out on a huge customer base. But it gets more serious: just like with a physical store, you’re also legally required to provide web accommodations for people with disabilities.
Not sure what this kind of internet accessibility looks like? We’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we’ve put together what you need to know about how people with disabilities use the internet, and what you can do to meet their needs — keep reading to learn more!
Why Web Accessibility Matters
Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made sure that businesses offer accessibility and reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.
Of course, in 1990 the internet was the farthest thing from most business owners’ minds. The ADA’s language never even mentioned websites. However, the language of the act makes it clear that the ADA covers the modern online sphere, too.
There also aren’t any clear guidelines for what businesses need to do to make their sites more accessible. However, if you don’t take the steps to boost accessibility, you could get hit with a lawsuit. It’s best to start increasing UX for people with disabilities and avoid this expensive situation.
Internet Accessibility Needs: How to Increase User Experience
Now, let’s take a look at some of the more common types of disability, and how you can make your site more accessible for each one.
Auditory disabilities affect people’s ability to hear. Although this doesn’t affect web users as much as some other types of disabilities too, there are still ways you can increase your internet accessibility for these users.
At their mildest, auditory disabilities make someone have difficulty hearing. At their most severe, they leave someone completely deaf.
The main types of content to make accessible for these users are videos and any auditory content, like podcasts and webinars.
You can make your content accessible by making sure there’s a transcript included with any audio content. You can also make sure that any content that plays with sound has captions included or available. And don’t forget that these users won’t be able to use or respond to voice-only commands.
Volume control can also help those who are hard of hearing access your content. Sign language can also be more useful than English to some deaf users, although just because someone is hearing impaired does not mean they know sign language.
Sometimes people who can hear just fine may have trouble with speech. This typically is a minor barrier when it comes to using the web.
However, if you use voice-based commands on your site, they’ll be difficult or impossible for people with speech impairments as well as hearing impairments.
Speech disabilities mean a person can’t make speech that’s easy to recognize. The voice recognition software won’t be able to tell what they’re trying to say.
Make sure to have other options for speech-based commands, such as the choice to type things in instead of speaking them. Keep in mind that not every user will be able to speak to a representative or interact with AI in the same way.
For web users, a visual disability can pose the biggest challenge. In spite of the wide variety of online content available, the vast majority of it is created with visually unimpaired users in mind.
As with hearing impairments, visual disabilities range along a spectrum. Some people can still see, but with limitations, such as the use of just one eye, or colorblindness. Others are completely blind.
However, you can and should make your site accessible for all visually impaired users. For people who are visually impaired but not blind, it helps to have the option of making images and text larger on your site.
People who are mostly or completely blind can still use the web as long as they can have the text translated into audible speech. Offering audio forms of your text content can make this easier for them.
Also, make sure your site uses the proper code for processing by technologies made to assist those with visual disabilities, like screen readers. There’s no point in having text-to-speech options if users won’t be able to access them using their devices. Try to keep your site straightforward and easy to navigate (this will help visually impaired users, and other users too!).
Physical disabilities can also create huge accessibility issues. These users will have a hard time using or controlling their bodies. Motions like typing or scrolling may be difficult or impossible.
However, these users can still use the internet with the right tools. These might include pointers, joysticks, special keyboards, and other devices. They can also use voice recognition and other software to do what their hands cannot.
If your site requires someone to enter information within a time limit, people with physical disabilities might not be able to do it. They also might not be able to push more than one key at once, or to click on a small button.
You can help them by raising or eliminating the time limits to fill out fields, and making click or keyboard commands simple. Again, a simple, easy to navigate website will help here.
Implementing Accessibility for People with Disabilities
Creating better web accessibility means getting more users and customers, as well as avoiding lawsuits for not being ADA compliant. This creates a powerful incentive to get started today!
To make your site accessible, you might need to rewrite some of the code, and edit your old content. But the sooner you get started, the sooner your whole website will be up to date.
If the prospect of updating your entire website seems daunting, don’t worry — we can help you get compliant. Learn more about our services here!