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4 Principles of Web Accessibility Demystified

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The goal of web accessibility is to allow uniform and reliable use of internet technology to everyone using a range of devices, browsers and platforms. All kinds of internet users should be able to take advantage of internet technology without facing any kinds of problems or difficulties.

This includes users with disabilities and people from different backgrounds, age groups and abilities. Web accessibility aims to make internet technology highly inclusive through the use of guidelines and standards. These are included in the WCAG 2.0 (short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0). The US Department of Justice has recommended WCAG 2.0 for web accessibility. You should learn more about web accessibility to make your website inclusive for all.

WCAG 2.0 states that websites should have the following qualities for accessibility:

Perceivable

Users should be able to process information on websites easily. A number of steps can be taken to realize this goal.

There should be alternatives to text, such as images, infographics and animations since they are quicker and easier to understand for most people.

Websites should also offer ‘alt tags’ for all images. These tags display text in place of images if they fail to load. This is helpful for those with slow connections and for those whose internet speed has been reduced due to heavy traffic. Alt tags are also great for SEO since they describe images to search engines.

Multimedia such as videos, animations and audio should have accompanying text. This is important for people with hearing issues or those who live in noisy environments. There needs to be captions in the videos and animations.

Transcripts should be provided below multimedia elements. Transcripts are very important for users who do not have the time to watch the entire presentation. They can swiftly read the text to save time.

Operable

For a website to be operable, website navigation should be intuitive and straightforward. This can be achieved via descriptive links, clear page titles and well-organized sitemaps. It should be easy for visitors to interact with the user interface.

The website should be operable by keyboard alone. This is crucial because many people suffering from disabilities cannot use a mouse. This also offers flexibility for other users who might prefer to use a keyboard rather than a mouse.

The website should offer clear instructions and options for rectifying mistakes. This is important not just for the people facing cognitive issues, but also for ordinary users since anyone can make mistakes.

An important rule of the WCAG 2.0 is that web pages should not have any element that flashes more than three times in one second. This is necessary to prevent the risk of seizures.

Understandable

Just because users can navigate a website easily, it does not necessarily mean that the site is understandable. The website must use concise and clear language. The language used must be simple enough to be understood even by non-native speakers.

You should link all uncommon words and phrases to simple glossaries or dictionaries. You can also visually format these words and phrases to assist users in recognizing them. The same approach should be used for all abbreviations.

Use plenty of succinct and fact-dense titles so that users can judge quickly whether or not the text is relevant to their needs. This will help to save the time of users and allow them to pinpoint relevant information quickly and easily.  This is also good for SEO purposes.

You should include audio interpretation of the text on your webpages. This will be invaluable for the visually impaired and thus promote accessibility. Audio format is also favored by people who prefer listening instead of reading.

Symbols, videos, images and illustrations should be used to supplement the text. The meaning of the text will become clearer this way. Practical examples should be employed to simplify the meaning of the text wherever possible. Sign language interpretation should be used for videos and audios.

Through the use of HTML language attributes, you should define the default language. Also, the website’s functions should be easy to comprehend. It should be easy for users to figure out the results of different actions on the website. This can improve user experience.

Forms should have clear headings and logical flow. A warning should be given to users if new window will be opened or if the link directs users to third parties.

A consistent template should be used throughout the website with the same alignment, positioning, attributes and layout. This will make it easy for users to read content, use functions and navigate. There should be adequate guidance for important processes like checkouts.

These qualities will make the website understandable. Websites become accessible with greater usability and simplicity.

Robust

For the website content to be robust, it must be capable of being easily interpreted by all kinds of user agents, including assistive technologies.

What does this imply?The content should continue being accessible to user agents and assistive technologies as it evolves. Regardless of advancements in technology, users should be able to utilize content.

The code used in webpages must be as simple and direct as possible. It must conform to appropriate standards so that different browsers can load the pages as intended by developers.

This is achieved by validating webpages, ensuring that they conform to standards, making sure that the opening and closing tags are used according to specifications, using HTML in accordance with latest standards and more.

Users can utilize a blend of different technologies. However, websites should perform consistently across different platforms and devices.

Although users should not expect websites to support outdated browser versions, websites must nevertheless accommodate a wide range of browsers, platforms and devices. They should not hamper users who utilize uncommon devices, browsers and platforms.

This will be possible if clean code is deployed in websites which is compliant with conventions and standards. Clean code supports the widest range of platforms and users. It will lead to minimal glitches, errors and slowing down of performance.A website developed via best practices ensures maximum accessibility for all.

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