Making your website more accessible to everybody, including those with cognitive, auditory, or visual disabilities, among others, is not easy as things stand. This is first because accessibility is not always part of the initial web design and is usually added as an afterthought. Secondly, on most platforms that you can use to create your own web presence, like WordPress, there are very few accessibility options at the moment.
So, unless you have some first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by those with disabilities, trying to access the web to carry out normal and even essential activities, then you need to look for guidance on how you can do this. The first point of call for most people in this position is to seek guidance from WCAG.
What Is WCAG?
WCAG is an acronym for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and is there to make those who do not have first-hand experience aware of the problems that could be faced when accessing websites and online content. It should be stressed, however, that these can be used not only to improve the experience for those with disabilities, but for everybody else, as well.
On further investigation, you will find that WCAG is broken down into 4 principles that form another acronym – POUR – which means that any website under your control should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. In greater detail, this means:
- Perceivable: The website navigation is easy to understand so that people can effectively move through the website. For instance, by putting the menu items in the same place on each page.
- Operable: The website can be used easily by those that do not have access or the ability to use peripherals, like a mouse, and can be used just as easily using the keyboard.
- Understandable: The text is easy to read (including size and background color) and understandable and is not filled with jargon and acronyms which are not explained.
- Robust: It should also be robust in that it doesn’t need the most recent version of a web browser to be able to use all of the features and that it is compatible with options like screen readers and other aids for those with disabilities.
How Does This Help You & Your Business?
By putting all of these things in place, you can do much to help with the engagement of many customers, which are unfortunately overlooked by many other websites. This is because, while some accessibility requirements are covered by law in some countries, for many business owners, they can be seen as a needless expense.
This can be a problem if accessibility has not been built in from day one, or your content is constantly updating. In many cases, this could come directly from several sources where, again, accessibility was not built in from day one.
This would, in principle, exclude those with many forms of disability, or even those with temporary impairments from accessing the site. However, thanks to accessibility overlays that can be added to a site, this can create several options, so users can interact and engage with a site that is now accessible for all.
To Wrap Everything Up
Unless you have first-hand knowledge, it can be hard to understand the needs of those with disabilities and impairments when using your website. However, by understanding WCAG to identify problems and by using solutions like overlays, you can improve engagement for everyone who uses your website.