Decoding Web Accessibility: Beyond Compliance to Inclusivity

February 27, 2024
By Guest

The importance of inclusivity extends far beyond physical spaces, and into the vast realms of the internet. An increasing number of activities are performed online, from those essential to our wellness to those that help us do our work or enjoy life – so the need to create inclusive web experiences cannot be overstated. 

But web accessibility is a crucial aspect of a strong user experience that is, unfortunately, often still overlooked or deprioritized. 

In this article we’ll look at what makes a website truly accessible, the multitude of benefits it brings, and most importantly, provide actionable strategies for businesses to transition from mere accessibility compliance to genuine web inclusivity. 

Are you new to web accessibility? Check out our introductory article, Get Started with Accessibility!

What Is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the practices that ensure your website is navigable and comprehensible for all users, irrespective of their physical or cognitive abilities. It’s about dismantling digital barriers that hinder some from fully experiencing the web.

This goes beyond mere compliance with accessibility standards; it’s about crafting experiences that are inherently inclusive.

Every facet of a website has a role in overall accessibility. From the underlying code that dictates functionality, to the design elements that shape user experience, and even the content’s structure and language – everything plays a part. It’s a holistic approach, intertwining technical precision with empathetic design. 

The more accessible your site is, the more opportunities you’ll have to make sales, earn leads, and make a great impression on potential customers. 

Accessibility as a Strategy

There’s a direct and undeniable link between web accessibility and profitability. When your website is easy to navigate and understand, it naturally attracts a broader spectrum of users. This inclusivity translates into enhanced user engagement, fostering a user base that feels seen and catered to.

So incorporating web accessibility isn’t just a benevolent move; it’s a smart business strategy. You’re opening your digital doors to a wider audience, enhancing the overall user experience, and making your website more intuitive, navigable, and user-friendly for everyone. 

It’s a classic case of doing well by doing good.

Consider the practical implications, too: A website that can be navigated with ease by someone with a disability is equally straightforward for a user without disabilities. 

This ease of use often leads to quicker and more efficient interactions with your site, thereby accelerating the journey from initial interest to final conversion. In simpler terms, when you make your website accessible, you’re also making it more efficient at converting visitors into customers.

Key Benefits of Prioritizing Web Accessibility

Next, let’s explore the many advantages of prioritizing web accessibility.

1. Enhancing Usability for All

Web accessibility isn’t just about facilitating users with disabilities; it’s about enhancing usability for everyone. Simple navigation, clear typography, and logical content structure assist users with impairments, but also improve the overall user experience. 

For instance, captioning videos benefits those with hearing difficulties and aids comprehension in noisy environments or for non-native speakers. Similarly, high-contrast colour schemes and clear fonts assist users with visual impairments while making the content more readable for all.

2. Expanding Audience Reach

Approximately 16% of the global population lives with some form of disability. By prioritizing web accessibility, you’re not just adhering to a noble cause – you’re making your offering more available to a significant market segment

Plus, consider users with temporary conditions like a broken arm or situational limitations such as bright sunlight making screens hard to read. Inclusive design ensures your website is approachable and usable for many diverse scenarios that can make or break a user’s ability to engage or convert.

3. Boosting Search Performance

Search engines favor websites that are accessible. 

Features that make a site more accessible, such as alt tags for images, proper heading structures, and descriptive link text, also improve SEO. These elements help search engines understand and index your content more effectively, leading to better search rankings and increased visibility.

4. Avoiding Legal Complications

With laws and regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Canadian Standard on Web Accessibility, and global Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), accessibility is not just a recommendation but a legal requirement that’s present in several jurisdictions.

Non-compliance could result in lawsuits and hefty fines. By prioritizing accessibility, you protect your business from legal risks and demonstrate a commitment to equality and inclusion.

5. Reflecting Brand Values

An accessible website is a reflection of your brand’s values and commitment to diversity and inclusivity. It shows that your business cares about all its users, reinforcing trust and loyalty among your customers. In today’s socially conscious market, this can be a significant differentiator.

6. Future-Proofing Your Website

The digital landscape is evolving toward greater inclusivity. By integrating accessibility into your web strategy today, you’re preparing for the future. This proactive approach ensures that as new technologies and standards emerge, your website remains relevant and accessible.

The longer you wait to address accessibility, the more expensive it will become for your site. 

7. Encouraging Innovation

Designing for inclusivity often requires innovative thinking. By considering the diverse needs of your audience, you may help designers and developers uncover unique methods or tools that enhance the user experience

This drive toward inclusive design can lead to breakthroughs in technology and user interface design, setting new industry standards. Your business can be a part of the change, instead of struggling to catch up later. 

8. Increasing Conversions

Ultimately, an accessible website is a more effective website. By accommodating a wider range of users, you’re likely to see increased engagement, longer site visits, and a higher conversion rate. 

Conversely, ignoring accessibility can lead to a loss in potential revenue and damage to your brand’s reputation.

Leveraging AI and Technology in Accessibility

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in enhancing web accessibility is pivotal in today’s fast-evolving digital landscape. 

With the global AI market expected to reach $407 billion by 2027, growing at a yearly rate of 36.2% from 2022, AI’s role in web design and accessibility is more significant than ever. This growth highlights the potential of AI in creating more inclusive digital experiences.

  • AI is instrumental in developing multilingual websites, breaking language barriers, and catering to a global audience – tools like Figma and Adobe use AI to generate accessible design ideas, ensuring that websites are navigable and understandable by a diverse range of users
  • Generative AI is reshaping web design, and by automating the creation of accessible design elements, AI aids in crafting web interfaces that are inclusive from the start
  • As AI continues to grow and evolve, its impact on web accessibility will likely increase, leading to more innovative and effective solutions for inclusive web design

Tools to Enhance Web Accessibility

Creating a more inclusive digital world requires effective tools and technologies to enhance web accessibility. These are just some of the resources that can help ensure that websites are navigable and understandable for all users.

  • Critical website information like logins, support, pricing, or promotions and sign-up bonuses, should be prominently visible to all users. WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool), Google Lighthouse and various readability tests can ensure the information is accessible to screen readers, while other features of these tools can tackle other aspects of accessibility. 
  • Tools like Angular provide accessible web documents, making it easier to generate content that is accessible to a wider audience, including individuals with disabilities.
  • Likewise, software such as ColorZilla and Contrast Checker are indispensable for ensuring that visual elements on a website are accessible to users with visual impairments. These tools help web developers adhere to WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) by allowing them to easily test and adjust the color contrast and brightness of text, buttons, and other visual elements to meet accessibility standards

Building a More Accessible Internet for Tomorrow

A more accessible internet is better for everyone. 

Developers and businesses need to enhance the inclusivity of their digital content, ensuring a seamless experience for every user. This commitment will not only boost sales and leads, but shape a more open and welcoming digital world.

Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.