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Web Accessibility Goes Well Beyond Screen Readers

One issue with the internet that’s eerily silent in the United States is the requirement for accessibility by those with disabilities. The web provides a profound opportunity to overcome these obstacles so it’s a focus that your business should begin paying attention to. In many countries, accessibility is no longer an option, it’s a legal requirement. Accessibility isn’t without challenges, though, as sites continue to become more interactive and technologies are implemented – accessibility is often an afterthought instead of a primary feature.

What is Web Accessibility?

In human–browser interaction, web accessibility refers to the accessibility of the web experience to all people, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment. The term “accessibility” is most often used in reference to specialized hardware or software, or a combination of both, designed to enable use of a computer or assistive technology by a person with a disability or impairment.

Impairments can be acquired from disease, trauma, or may be congenital. They tend to fall within one of the following four categories:

  1. Visual – low-vision, complete or partial blindness, and color blindness.
  2. Hearing – deafness, being hard of hearing, or hyperacusis.
  3. Mobility – paralysis, cerebral palsy, dyspraxia, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury.
  4. Cognition – head injury, autism, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADHD.

Accessibility is often abbreviated as the numeronym a11y, where the number 11 refers to the number of letters omitted.

The main aim of web accessibility is to remove barriers that might prevent disabled people from interacting with or accessing websites. Designers can use semantic markup or accessibility attributes or other means to help disabled people to overcome their incapacity to use websites. This infographic from Designmantic details Web Accessibility:

Web Accessibility

What is ARIA?

ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications and is a set of special accessibility attributes which can be added to any markup. Each role attribute defines a specific role for type of object such as an article, alert, slider or a button.

An example is a submit input on a form. By adding a role=button to the HTML element, providing visual or mobility-impaired people with an indication that the submission can be interacted with.

Test Your Site for Web Accessibility

The Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) is developed and made available as a free community service by WebAIM

Additional Resources on Accessibility:

  1. World Wide Web Consortium on Accessibility
  2. Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
  3. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
  4. ARIA in HTML

Do you use a screen reader or other accessibility device for my site? If so, I’d love to hear what bothers you the most about it!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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