What Is Accessibility?
The first thing we need to discuss is what accessibility is not. Accessibility is not about fringe users, people who go against the grain when it comes to Internet use. It’s not about supporting unpopular browsers, like Internet Explorer. Accessibility is about making sure that your website is accessible to all users, even the ones who may require special accommodations to do so.
When we speak of accessibility, we reference people with handicaps that may prevent them from experiencing a website at its full capacity. In the United States alone, there are 56.7 million people with disabilities, according to Interactive Accessibility. And out of all adults living with disabilities, 54 percent use the Internet.
Website accessibility standards are especially critical to uphold for people with vision and hearing impairments, which makes up approximately 6.4% of the US population. In a perfect world, all websites would be compatible with a screen reader, a device used by the vision impaired to read content online. All videos would be closed captioned so that people with hearing disorders can easily understand videos. View a full list of elements you can implement to maximize website accessibility from Tech Republic.
So what is accessibility? It’s using the tools that already exist to ensure everyone can enjoy a full experience on a website.
It’s just thoughtful development.
Why is Accessibility Important?
The short answer is: you never want to block a buyer. That may sound cold and calculated, and not at all thoughtful, but it’s true. Any public space now has to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. There must be ramps or elevators where stairs are present. All bathrooms and doorways must be handicap accessible, and aisles need to be clear. There aren’t ADA regulations yet for public websites, but it’s just good business. Before the ADA mandated specific codes for buildings, were there no shoppers who required accommodations? No, of course not! They shopped at stores that were ahead of the game and those stores profited from it. The same principal holds true for your website and content. If you build it now to accommodate, with website accessibility standards in place, shoppers who require it will gravitate naturally.
Rebuild or Renovate?
At this point you may be asking yourself; do I have to re-do my whole website, all my videos and content? Can someone come in and just renovate the website? To answer this, I’ll use the illustration of a church I know. The church is a beautiful old building in a prime location – a wedding scene in a movie kind of building. The church was required to make the building ADA compliant, and therefore needed to add a new ramp and an elevator. The total cost of the renovation was well over $150,000, but the church took out loans and accomplished it. However, even though the updates made the church more accessible, it didn’t increase the building’s value. It would have been a more economical decision to sell the church as-is and construct a new building that was ADA compliant.
I get asked regularly, “Can you reuse the code on my existing website to implement website accessibility standards?” It really depends on the current state of your website, but in many cases, it’s more efficient and economical to start from scratch. Depending on the size of your website and the shape of your existing code, it could take an exuberant amount of time to identify all of the problem areas, decipher the html code, and update it. On the same token, if you have a newer website that was built properly, it could be very feasible to update your current website to be ADA compliant.
What Makes Artonic Different?
It all comes back to the user. Putting the user first is the only way to make a website that works for everyone. It’s like building the perfect building; if you’re so focused on making a beautiful skylight that you forget to put in a ramp, you’ll lose customers and end up spending more down the road.
To learn about how Artonic can give your company an edge with website accessibility standards, get in touch with us today! Our expert team of designers and developers will work with you to craft a website that is not only functional and useful to your users, but accessible to all.