What is Web Accessibility?

Older woman writing in notebook near a laptop

Updated February 25, 2021

Imagine moving to a different country and attempting to visit a restaurant without directions or knowledge about their currency, culture, or language. It would not only be difficult to even get to the restaurant, but once you are there communication would be nearly impossible without some help.

Web Accessibility is the ongoing process of remediating websites, tools and technologies so that people with disabilities can use them. This includes all disabilities that affect access to the web including:

  • Auditory
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

What are the Web Accessibility Rules?

The ADA, or, Americans with Disabilities Act, protects those with disabilities against discrimination. The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and its Web Accessibility Initiative have developed guidelines and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

For individuals with visual impairments or low vision this may look like making sure the website colors have enough contrast so they can still understand your content.

For individuals with physical impairments it may look like ensuring all files and pages on your site can still be accessed without the use of a mouse.

How do I make my website accessible & compliant?

There is not a 100% compliant quick fix. No automated tool can check all of the Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 guidelines but there are steps you can take today to improve accessibility.

Web Accessibility checks you can do in under 15 minutes

Below are steps that you can do today to assist visitors while they are on your website.

  1. Provide Text Alternatives for images, video and audio

    Legend Web Works builds your website custom and requires text alternatives or alt text for every image you upload to your website so your alt text is always in check.

    However, it’s important that you ensure your text alternatives truly describe what is being portrayed in the image without descriptions like “picture of” or “image of”.

    Additionally, add captioning for pre-recorded audio/video content. You have probably scrolled through Facebook or YouTube and wished there were captions on the video you were trying to watch at some point. Consider what it would be like if you could only see or could only hear videos.  A full text transcript of audio and visual elements on your site make the content accessible to screen readers and assistive technologies.

    How to Add your own closed captions on YouTube.

  2. Put content in order 

    Legend Web Works sets you up with predefined Title, Subtitle and Paragraph text options for your site. Ensure, for example, you do not have subtitle text above Title text. 

    Behind the scenes this orders the content so the correct reading sequence can be determined by screen readers and assistive technologies.

  3. Make your PDFs and Documents Accessible

    You may not realize it, but documents have specific structure, and there are tags and labels required to ensure your documents can be read by assistive technology.

    Typical filetypes include:
  4. Check your color contrast

    When creating graphics to use on your website ensure there is enough contrast between the elements so someone with low vision can still understand the message.

    Contact us for help if you're unsure if your website colors meet the WCAG 2.1 contrast requirements.

  5. Use good link text

    Make sure that the purpose of each link can be determined by the link alone.

    Instead of “Click here” for instance, use “Click here to learn more about [Insert Topic].”

  6. Add an Accessibility Statement and let people know who to contact.

    If someone is having a difficult time navigating your site, let them know who to contact for help. 

    Example of a Minimal Accessibility Statement

Many accessibility requirements are already met by the software used to build your website. As time goes on requirements change and our in-house development team is constantly evolving our core software to help make the websites we build a welcoming experience for everyone.

 

Due to changes in 2021 many websites will require technical updates to comply with the enforced WCAG 2.1 standards.  

To determine your next steps:

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Request a FREE professional site review.

 

 

Legal Disclaimer: The information above provides general information to help navigate how this relates to your business online. Please do not use this article as legal advice. For full details visit the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative site and discuss with your legal advisor.