With the updates being made to ADA 508 compliance standards, updates to WCAG standards, and overall how businesses are viewing Accessibility, for many teams it may seem like this is an overwhelming task or that this expensive initiative is being pushed on them. Don't get me wrong; I believe that people care, they want to be inclusive. They also need to stay within budgets and meet stakeholder expectations. Businesses are looking for help to make accessibility requirements align with business objectives. Lucky for us all, that's easier to do than it looks.
Let's take a moment to touch on what I consider to be the primary pillars that help you to build the bridge between your business goals and accessibility requirements.
If you've read other blogs here at Mediacurrent you've heard us say that search engine optimized site may not be accessible but an accessible site is more SEO friendly! Hierarchical heading structure, effective use of meta language and title tags, and well-formatted structure helps Google to identify what's important on your site and is inherently more screen reader friendly. You're enabling your content to reach more people, which leads up to...
Greater Audience Reach
You reach more people with effective SEO. With regard to the users themselves: in the US alone, approximately 53 million people self-identify as disabled. If someone is temporarily disabled, if someone is colorblind, if someone is just struggling through a bad user experience they may not self-identify as disabled; millions more are being affected too. All users benefit from an accessible website.
From what we've read so far, technologies such as Alexa are using some of the same code as many assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to deliver their users the best experience. Being accessible may be helping companies keep up with the Internet of Things!
According to Section508.gov, "The Revised 508 Standards require conformance to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) (link is external) 2.0 Level AA. And with the Winn-Dixie Case of last year, websites that act as portals to brick and mortar locations may be found in non-compliance as well! Compliance may protect your company from unnecessary legal concerns.
Do Good in Viral World
Tweets, shares, and posts: information is passed along the web in nanoseconds and by the millions. Good press, bad press, it all spreads. Be known for being inclusive, for being the company that cares about its users enough to make accessibility a priority.
Though I will never discount the vital importance of colors, functionality, statistics, and code, true accessibility is really about respecting your users and respecting your content enough to want more people to access it.
Slowly building it into your standard operations can lower the overhead in the long run. Periodic accessibility health checks are recommended but the need for the overhaul should be negated with a "baked in" approach.
It's an ongoing process but it gets easier. Starting with education, your company culture can grow to make accessibility "Just What You Do."
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