Web accessibility is meant to help people with specific disabilities. When websites are correctly designed, navigable and coded, they can be used by everyone. You would think that all websites should be accessible to all already, but when you take a more in-depth look, you will notice that almost all websites and digital tools are not entirely up to date.
Still today, many sites are being developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use. There are international standards set to list these barriers and how to avoid them. With the many devices (mobile phones) the barrier to access the world wide web has decreased tremendously. But yet, the websites are sometimes even more challenging to access on mobile devices.
Barriers for people with disabilities
The Internet is primarily intended for every human, regardless of language, location, kind of device, hardware, software, or capabilities. There is still a long way to go until the Web meets this goal, and it becomes accessible to people with a diverse range of vision, audio, mobility, speech, and cognitive capabilities. In Europe there are 5 million people with specific disabilities and in the U.S. there are 61 million people. Most common web disabilities: audio, visual, speech, neurological, and cognitive.
- Visual: when images do not have an alternative text, people who are blind do not get this information. People who have difficulty seeing cannot read small font sizes.
- Audio: audio without transcript are not accessible to people with loss of hearing.
- Mobility: when clickable items are too small, people with a mobility disability cannot open or click on the item.
- Cognitive: difficult navigation, complex use of language or people with epilepsy cannot have flashing imagery.
The real world vs the online world
In the real world, people with these types of disabilities experience difficulties, which should be avoided in the online world in the best way we can. The Worldwide Web eliminates the obstacles that many people face in communication and interaction in the real world. But when software, tools, websites are not designed and built correctly, these obstacles will also occur online, which discourages people from using the Web. Luckily many user-friendly solutions offer support towards full web compliance. Besides, there is a universal design created for websites.
Accessibility to the Internet means the development of websites, tools and technology to enable people with disabilities to use them. Examples of the top barriers for people with specific disabilities are navigation, web perception, interaction, understanding, and options to contribute to the Internet.
The future of web accessibility
The keywords in all businesses nowadays are diversity, inclusion and accessibility to people’s life choices and capabilities. The Internet is becoming an increasingly valuable resource for information. In both commercial and non-commercial areas of life; politics, education, healthcare, hospitality.
Equal opportunity and access to information and communication technologies are considered a fundamental human right by the United Nations Convention on the topic the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD).