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The Main Principles of Accessible Web Content Part 4: Robust Accessibility

March 4, 2022

A defining feature of accessibility is that it can stand the test of time and changing technology. Is your site up to snuff? 

In our four-part series featuring the principles of accessibility, we discussed the terminology that makes up the acronym POUR. We have covered perceived accessibility, operable accessibility, and understandable accessibility. Today’s post covers the final word in the acronym, robust accessibility, and includes a real-world example to showcase how this idea works in the digital world.

What Makes Up Robust Accessibility? 

When a site is created for any reason, such as sharing information or selling products, it is built with the understanding that it will not be a static entity—that is, it will need to adapt and change over time as technology advances. 

Baking accessibility into the site design and functionality means that no matter what happens in the future with technology, accessibility will remain a goal for the site. 

For instance, when the trend in design aimed toward parallax scrolling, designers and developers who worked in accessibility had to find ways to ensure all audiences had the same access to information as before the functionality was used. 

In contrast, if a site does not support changing technologies and accessibility, it can turn away users. Leaving a site idle causes problems beyond having outdated information; if users who use assistive technologies like screen readers or keyboard navigation are unable to access information, then large swaths of your audience may be lost. 

How to Achieve Robust Accessibility

In order to make sure the site you support is accessible and that the principle of robust accessibility is followed, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. 

First, accessibility testing on a regular basis can identify problems and shortcomings as a site is being updated. Adding a cadence to your support work that focuses on accessibility allows you to catch problems quickly and make decisions about priorities for the site. Also, make sure you are not using only automated tools, but also testing manually. 

Next, recognize that when technology changes over time, you must strike a balance between technology that is no longer supported and forward thinking about how the site should function. When browsers impede accessibility, for example, because they are not part of the norm, it may be beneficial to set an end date for when to create design and functionality exclusive to that browser so that moving forward, rather than looking back, is the acceptable path forward. 

Lastly, keeping best practices in mind as you innovate will allow for accessibility to be your standard rather than an exception to your site’s functionality. Valid HTML and ARIA tags, for instance, are preferable and will (for the time being) play a role in how sites are created. Following best practices for these with accessibility at the forefront of your work will reduce errors and inconsistencies that can raise flags from an accessibility standpoint. 

Forward-Thinking Accessibility on Mediacurrent’s Rain Installation 

When we created Rain at Mediacurrent, we wanted to make a Drupal installation that could launch quickly and allow editors an easy interface when creating the site. We also wanted to make sure that it was accessible and provided our own accessibility audit and remediation internally to make sure it aligns with WCAG 2.0 standards. 

Learn more about the Rain distro and how we consistently ensure that users make the most out of using Rain in their organization’s projects. 

Innovate with Accessibility in Mind with Mediacurrent

Your site provides the world a glance at your capabilities and demonstrates what priorities you have for the audiences you are communicating with, from stakeholders and users to the everyday person who wants to get to know your organization. Our accessibility team is here to help you learn more about the principles of accessibility and how to apply them to your organization. Contact us today to discuss our support services! 

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