Imagine if 90% of the
websites or mobile apps you use today locked you out. Everyone else continues
to experience the convenience of mobile banking, the connectedness of social
media and the freedom of online shopping… but, for you, they’re inaccessible.
For the 57 million people with disabilities in the United States, this is their everyday experience. People with Visual, Auditory, Motor, Speech and Cognitive disabilities rely on various assistive technologies and alternate methods of interaction to use digital documents, web and mobile apps.
People with Visual disabilities may rely on screen readers, braille displays, zoom functions or high contrast colors to get value from what’s displayed on screen. People with Auditory disabilities often rely on captions or transcripts for video content. People with Motor disabilities might require speech-to-text software or keyboard-only interactions. People with Speech disabilities require a non-vocal means of interaction. And, finally, people with Cognitive disabilities often require thoughtful and organized layouts with clear direction.
Digital Accessibility is the practice of making digital documents, web and mobile apps accessible to everyone… including people with disabilities.
Accessible sites and apps are:
Perceivable (All visitors have a similar experience regardless of ability.)
Operable (All controls and interactive elements are usable.)
Understandable, (Content is clear, mitigating confusion and ambiguity)
and Robust. (Content can be accessed with a wide range of technologies)
Building accessible sites or apps can be tricky without the right guidance. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG (wuh-cag), published by the W3C, is the standard rule set that defines what makes a site accessible. Developers, Testers, App Owners and Accessibility Experts from around the world rely on these standards for proper accessibility testing direction.
In fact, many US Federal Government agency sites and apps are required by law, under Section 508, to be accessible. This law includes the WCAG standard. In the US and European Union, WCAG is being adopted across private sector businesses as well.
Whether you’re following legal requirements or proactively working to make the web a better place, practicing digital accessibility makes a REAL difference for millions of people.