With more people online during the pandemic and an increased prevalence of accesssibility laws and regulations, digital accessibility has become a hot topic on which every company with a website and/or app needs to focus their efforts. It’s not only because all people should be able to access your content without barriers, but penalties and lawsuits potentially await companies who put too little effort into optimizing their websites and tools for accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium contain the standards that companies should follow to make their digital applications and documents accessible for everyone. It’s not just the teams working on websites that need to be aware of these standards, so too should others in the organization. Accessibility is everyone's responsibility.
Digital accessibility is a very broad concept. It doesn't only refer to people with visual disabilities such as color-blindness. It also concerns the hearing-impaired, people with learning or attention disabilities, neuromuscular disorder, situational disabilities like a broken arm, and many more. If a user is unable to use a mouse, they need to use assistive technology that includes screen readers, magnifiers, speech-to-text software, or voice recognition software. Around 20% of the world population lives with a disability.
So how do you make sure your website is accessible?
The list of things that companies can work on to improve digital accessibility is almost endless, so here are a few main points to get you started:
- Set up an Accessibility Committee with people from different disciplines and schedule regular meetings to discuss accessibility and what/how to optimize your digital assets.
- There are tools that can help you improve digital accessibility. At CWT we use Siteimprove. This tool scans our sites and lists accessibility issues in detail. You can gain points for solved issues, and this way work your way to a more accessible website.
- Have IT work on solving the technical issues, and content managers on solving the content issues. Be sure that everyone is aware of the ‘do's’ and ‘don'ts’ of digital accessibility.
- Accessibility concerns everyone in the organization so encourage teams to learn about digital accessibility.
- Create an accessibility statement and place it on your website. Update it on a regular basis.
And on a more detailed level, here are some examples of accessibility optimization on websites:
- Alt texts for links and images
- Content written in plain language
- Contrast in color combinations
- Large and/or enlargeable images
- Underlined/colored links
- Large click areas
- No flashing effects
At CWT we aim to be an inclusive company and therefore accessibility is high on our priority list. Not only digitally throughout our websites, mobile app and tools, but also in our offices.