Michael Hingson, former national ambassador for the ‘Brail’ Literacy Campaign and chief vision officer at accessiBe, breaks down the current state of online accessibility. He explains why making your website more accessible and details some of the problems with ensuring this is done effectively. Michael also discusses how accessiBe is working to resolve this problem.
When you type in “website accessibility” on Google, the top hits are articles on how businesses are obligated to make their websites accessible. Accessibility has been defined by law, but it’s not just about complying with legislation – it’s simply good business sense.
The World Health Organization reports that 285 million people have a disability that affects reading, including blindness and low vision. Furthermore, according to the latest census data, 18% of Americans have a disability, accounting for almost 56 million people in the US. Therefore, it is evident that there is a growing need to make websites accessible, including making them inclusive for all users, including those who are partially sighted, blind, or color impaired.
To ensure that your website is inclusive, accessible, and user-friendly, you need to support all technologies, including screen readers. It’s certainly more work for the programmer, but it’s crucial for ensuring accessibility. Unfortunately, however, there is currently no scalable solution available to help programmers meet this challenge.
Michael Hingson explains how accessiBe is working to change this by providing programmers with a tool that automatically checks for accessibility problems and provides feedback in an easy-to-understand way. AccessiBe aims to enhance the user experience when using any website, particularly making it more accessible for those with a disability.
AccessiBe works by capturing information about your website. It then presents a list of possible issues and a red, yellow, green scorecard to show which areas need improving. The service then provides friendly feedback on how you can resolve the problems identified.
For websites to be accessible, they must adhere to the following principles:
1) Keyboard support
2) Semantic HTML tags
3) Small screen size
4) Large text size
5) Use of color effectively
6) Text resizing functionality
7) Use of graphic images progressively
8) Adequate spacing around links or buttons
9) Page titles that describe the content of a page for screen reader users.
10) Sufficient alt-text on all images that are not purely decorative
Hingson concludes by saying that you can never expect your website to be fully accessible, but it is possible to get pretty close. AccessiBe’s solution offers greater transparency and removes some of the guesswork for programmers while providing a scalable solution to help resolve this issue. He went on to say that accessiBe is capable of supporting all technologies that are commonly used for people with disabilities.
“I think in another five years, you’re going to see the people in charge of web accessibility will be celebrating that finally, we can keep up with how quickly websites are being created. That’s our goal.” Hingson said. And with accessiBe, he is bringing that goal a step closer.