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Tech Tuesday: Accessibility – An Introduction

6 September 2016 | Evelyn Higgins | About a 2 minute read
Tags: accessibility, design, tech, Tech Tuesday, ux


What is accessibility?

Web accessibility is the practice of making content that can be used by as many people or as many pieces of software as is possible, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

When most people think of accessibility, they think of a traditional definition. People with vision, hearing, or motor impairments all browse the web in different ways. It’s important that we accommodate everyone equally. People with blindness or some other vision impairment will often browse the web using software that reads the text on the screen out loud.  Making screens readable by this software is a large part of building accessible products.

Even milder impairments can impact huge portions of the general population. It’s extremely common for people to have varying degrees of colour blindness, which can be accommodated by making sure that there’s enough contrast in value on a website and not just a contrast of pure colour.

Accessibility covers much more than just disabled access. It’s about giving people access to a website from various devices and users who have different screen sizes, browser types, devices and settings.  Mobile devices generate more web traffic than desktops so we need to be ready to meet the needs of all users on all devices.

 

Why should organisations care about accessibility?

If your website does not meet certain design standards, then you could be sued for discrimination. It is important for those involved in design and front-end development to be aware of the standards that should be met. This helps to protect your organisation and any clients from repercussions of not delivering accessible products. Put simply, it is the right thing to do.

When discussing requirements with our clients it’s important to think about the considerations required for making sites accessible. Taking accessibility considerations into account when designing UI, writing user stories and acceptance criteria helps dev teams to give accurate estimations. It saves time in the long run; if accessibility is afterthought it may mean having to revise and revisit code to make it compliant.

Many of our clients will have an accessibility standard level that they are currently meeting or will strive to meet. There are three levels of conformance – A (lowest), AA, AAA (highest)

Accessibility standards include things like providing text alternatives for non-text content, presenting content in a meaningful order, ensuring ability to resize text without losing content or function.

 

Some useful resources

Here is a useful checklists that identifies the requirements at each conformance level.

Web Standards –

https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAS_78

 

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