Friday, March 30, 2018

Web Accessibility

Web Accessibility

What is Web Accessibility? 

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG 2.0, is a set of stable, technical standards designed to help developers (content, tool and evaluation) along with anyone else who needs standards for accessibility, including mobile accessibility, to ensure that their product is properly designed in order for those with disabilities to be able to access the information.
  • Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal law, states that electronic and information technology should be made accessible for those with disabilities. Section 508 has been recently updated to closely align with WCAG 2.0.  

Why Should We Care?

  • The web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, regardless of disabilities or limitations. However, when websites are designed badly using poor web design practices provide a barrier to exclude those same people.
  • One would think that websites and software would inherently work with screen readers, and provide captions, and one would be able to navigate a website using just a keyboard, but that’s not true and it is our job to make sure everyone has access.
  • Along with benefiting those with disabilities, having an accessible website actually benefits everyone! 

What Should We Look for When We Make our Websites Accessible? 

  1. Alt text (equivalent alternative text)
    • When an image is used on a web page, there should be text that is then read by the screen reader. Anything that is an image (logos, pictures, diagrams, maps, drawings, math formulas) that convey any sort of information important to the user should have appropriate alt text.
    • For example, a map shows locations of magnet schools in the area, which conveys information, should have alternative text describing the locations.
Implementing this accessibility solution helps: blind, color blindness, low vision, people using low bandwidth and those who've turned off images when browsing, etc.
  1. Captions/Transcripts
    • Videos, regardless of how long or short they are, should have captions, and auto-generated captions are a good start, but shouldn't be the only accommodation.
    • Videos should also have transcripts! There are many subscription services that can transcribe videos.
Implementing this accessibility solution helps: Deaf, Hard of Hearing, people with sensory disabilities, people using low bandwidth and people who rely on written information, etc.
  1. Keyboard Navigation
    • To navigate a website, the user shouldn't have to exclusively use a mouse. The website should be designed to be able to use a keyboard or use Assistive Technology to mimic a mouse.
    • This includes staying away from inaccessible plugins and using best practices in web design.
Implementing this accessibility solution helps: People with mobile disabilities, people with temporarily disabilities, elderly, those who don't have a mouse, younger children, and those with sensory disabilities, etc.

Resources and Information

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