So much information is available on the internet helping to educate, enhance and provide for users online. Yet, there are many online users that are being left behind because websites are not properly coded and filled with errors. With a large population of disabled individuals and individuals with impairments, web accessibility has begun playing a crucial role online. Accessibility pertaining to the internet is using proper coding that ensures information is accessible to the largest audience possible.
Accessibility for a website is not only pertinent for disabled individuals, it is also good for business. Testing your website using a validation tool and making necessary modifications can have a dramatic impact on the accessibility of a site, including increasing your rank on Google and other search engines. It is important for company owners to understand whom accessibility improvements impact. Most company owners will be pleased to know that allowing access to the largest number of users is not only benefiting the consumers visiting your website, but also benefiting the company itself.
Who benefits from Accessibility?
Maintaining a website that is accessible is not only about generating content and information that is accessible to the disabled. It is true that designing with accessibility in mind will give access to users that have a substantial hearing, vision, or mobility loss as well as other significant impairments that affect daily functionality, but it will also provide benefits for a large number of other users. Designing or implementing changes for accessibility also apply to color blind, the elderly, foreign language speakers, and a large number of mobile phone users.
Search Engines, the blindest user online
Google has often been described as “the biggest blind user on the internet.” Search Engines cannot index content that is only available in flash or images. Sites filled with errors and fail to provide accessibility are ignored by search engines. Infographics are a great example, they are a photo representation of complex information that is meant to be condensed and simplified. The issue with these images is, unless the text-equivalent information is available, infographics cannot be read by search engines or blind users. Most importantly here, is learning and following accessibility guidelines and testing your website using a validation tool. This will improve SEO indexing, and as most businesses online know, this can vastly improve traffic and business to your site.
Smartphones versus Dumb Sites
Make it habit to test websites on smartphones to ensure the site looks good and navigable. Accessibility errors on your website can also adversely impact your mobile website. The smartphone industry is booming and every day more users are turning to these compact internet devices to retrieve information, book appointments and make purchases. Don’t miss out on business because your site is not accessible on a mobile device.
Elderly and Retired Population
The elderly population is larger than ever and it is continuing to grow. As individuals age often impairments and physical dexterity declines. This doesn’t necessarily classify a person as disabled, but can make it difficult to browse online. A website that has text that is not easily adjustable, for someone who has difficulty seeing, or complex drop down menus that are not accessible using a keyboard, for someone who can no longer use a mouse. Failing to provide access to your website to this audience of users is a huge mistake for any business owner.
Non-native English Speakers
The internet provides a platform for websites to receive a global audience. While it can be tempting to use high tech and complex information and sentence structures, it can create a barrier to users that are non-English speakers. For individuals that English is not their first language, it is easier for them to attain information from websites when the language on the site is simplified. Making content that is not just for local users but can be understood globally can greatly increase access to a site.
Web accessibility has been in the news and becomes an important topic for business owners online. With all the discussions about how and why businesses need to have an accessible website, it is also important to understand who benefits from accessibility. Accessibility benefits more than disabled individuals, it benefits everyone. Take the time to learn and follow accessibility guidelines and most importantly test your website for errors, broken links and ADA Compliance using a validation tool.
AuditGenie™ is a leading provider of an online website testing tool that is used by web developers, law firms, human resource professionals, and advocacy groups. AuditGenie™ can “crawl” 1,000’s of web pages on any website and provide both visual and automated reports that identify hidden website programming errors or warnings. Errors or warnings that left uncorrected could lead to lawsuits from special interest groups and/or violate ADA Regulations.