Recently, AccesiBe’s Chief Vision Officer remarked that the web is far from being accessible to everyone with disabilities. The comments were made on the 31 anniversary of The Americans With Disabilities Act – a longstanding piece of legislation that was sought to ensure accessibility and fairness for everyone.
The issue of website accessibility has been a hot topic for years, with it being governed by several state and federal laws across the U.S. With more businesses migrating online and more consumers turning to the web, pressure is mounting for the formalization of web accessibility standards.
With it, more people are asking one question: are web developers doing enough to ensure web accessibility today?
Why Website Accessibility Should Be A Priority For Web Developers
Did you know that 71 percent of website users with disabilities leave a web page that is not accessible? This was revealed in a study published by Forbes where 7 in 10 website users said they would not allow non-accessible websites.
These statistics hold particular significance since 1 in 4 Americans have a disability. By now focusing more on website accessibility, developers are essentially reducing their website appeal and reach by a staggering 25 percent.
Furthermore, a 2020 study by WebAIM found that 98 percent of the top websites in the world do not include features offering full accessibility. Over 1 percent of the American population also has a visual disability, according to a past study. Meanwhile, a larger portion experience vision issues and may utilize screen readers.
According to CPFN, vision loss and impairment are often experienced by children (and some adults) with cerebral palsy. Yet 60 percent of them claim that website accessibility has stayed the same in the past year.
Focus On Consistent And Clear Navigation
According to the W3C’s Content Accessibility Guidelines, clear navigation is a major marker of accessible web pages.
Providing a clear navigational experience improves your website’s usability and can reduce the bounce rate. For the basics of clear navigation, developers should begin with clear headers.
It is also recommended that web developers allow web page users to skip irrelevant content. This can be done by including a Skip Content link on your web pages.
Include The Use Of Descriptive URLs And Texts
AccessiBe’s Chief Vision Officer Michael Hingson cited gaps in website accessibility when he tried to purchase something and “all I found were links that went to images and there was no description of them.” Unfortunately, his experience is not an isolated one with those that utilize screen readers or audio programs.
One solution to this is the use of descriptive URLs and texts during website development. It may be helpful for web developers to think of how screen readers would read a webpage by reading out links.
Because of this, a basic recommendation to boost website accessibility is to minimize the use of Click Here anchor texts on the page. For images, linking to a webpage instead of to a link can help screen readers the alternative text.
From a financial point of view, the disabled population in the US holds a $500 billion spending power. The good news is, simple additions like adding descriptive links and focusing on universal navigation can make a huge difference.
By ignoring the call to make websites more accessible for all, web developers and companies alike are effectively the demands and possibilities of consumers.