June 26th, 2020

Inclusive design is the conscious effort to create digital products or services that enables a wide range of diverse people to access those products. Everyone should have the ability to understand, navigate and interact with a website and contribute to the web, including by the use of assistive technologies.

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” -- Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web

We created this webinar that reviews what it means to create a welcoming digital presence for all people online:

 

 

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility means that all websites, tools and technologies are designed and developed to be used by everyone, including individuals with a variety of disabilities. Examples of disabilities that web accessibility supports are:

  • Auditory
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

In fact, 57 million Americans have some form of permanent disability, according to the 2010 Census. Web accessibility also benefits users on different devices; older people with changing abilities from age; temporary disabilities like a broken arm; situational disabilities (like bright sunlight or an environment where they cannot listen to audio); and users who have a slow internet connection.

Why should we care about accessibility?

First off, it's the right thing to do. Everyone should be able to access the web. Additionally, studies show that accessible websites:

  • Have better search results
  • Reach a larger audience
  • Have better usability
  • Are SEO friendly
  • Have faster download times
  • Encourage good coding practices
  • Promote positive brand experiences
  • Leads to customer loyalty and increased ROI

While inaccessible websites lead to:
  • Reduced user retention
  • Negative brand experience
  • Legal action - lawsuits stemming from increasing laws and policies to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Some of the better-known cases involve Domino’s Pizza and Beyonce, but the number of lawsuits over accessibility nearly tripled from 2017 to 2018, with settlements sometimes reaching over one million dollars.

If you're interested in conducting a self-guided accessibility audit of your own website, download our tool.

Accessibility Audit

What is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

The WCAG standards are developed and maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Internet.

  • WCAG Guidelines are based on the 4 principles of accessibility: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.
  • WCAG has three levels of compliance: A, AA, AAA (from least to most stringent)
    • Each level builds on the previous level
    • The lowest tier (A) impacts the largest proportion of people

What is Section 508 Compliance?

508 is shorthand for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires federal government websites and applications to be safe and accessible for people with disabilities. 508 Compliance is equivalent to WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines  – so they represent a subset of the current accessibility guidelines (the latest being 2.1). They are mandatory to follow for government websites.

web accessibility guidelines chart

When websites offer a welcoming and inclusive digital presence, you’re providing an equal opportunity for all users to feel connected to your business and mission. We understand that resources can be limited to provide such an experience, but the very real potential benefit of connecting with your prospective customer base, meeting legal accessibility requirements, and reaching new users should not be overlooked.