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Understanding Web Accessibility

A Foundation for Inclusive Design

2.5 minute read

This is the first in a series of articles looking into the requirements, tools, and techniques surrounding accessible web design

In the digital world, there’s a crucial aspect of website design that often flies under the radar, especially for those new to the concept: accessibility. It’s about ensuring your website is usable by everyone, which includes people with disabilities. But accessibility isn’t just for a select few; it’s a practice that benefits all users, in all kinds of situations.

Accessibility: A Universal Design Principle

Think of accessibility as the Swiss Army knife of web design. It’s not just for individuals with permanent disabilities. Ever tried to read tiny text without your glasses? Or browse a website with a baby in one arm? These are everyday situations where accessibility becomes vital. By designing with accessibility in mind, you’re creating a more user-friendly website for everyone.

Introducing ADA and WCAG

If you’re new to web accessibility, two acronyms should become part of your vocabulary: ADA and WCAG.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): This U.S. legislation requires businesses and public entities to provide equal access to all individuals, and this extends to digital content. Learn more about ADA here.

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines): Developed by the W3C, these guidelines are the gold standard for web accessibility. They offer a framework for making web content more accessible, particularly for people with disabilities. Delve into the WCAG here. The Four Pillars of WCAG

WCAG breaks down accessibility into four key principles: websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Here’s a quick rundown:

Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable in ways that users can perceive (e.g., providing text alternatives for non-text content).

Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable (e.g., functionality available from a keyboard).

Understandable: Information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable (e.g., content is readable and understandable).

Robust: Content must be robust enough to be reliably interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Why This Matters to You

As a web designer or developer, you play a pivotal role in shaping the digital landscape. Embracing accessibility means you’re not just complying with legal standards; you’re actively contributing to a more inclusive and equitable internet.

In the following articles, we’ll dive deeper into each WCAG principle, offering practical advice and tips on implementing these guidelines in your web projects. From color contrast to keyboard navigation and beyond, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start your journey in accessible design.

Accessibility is not just a checkbox; it’s an ongoing commitment to inclusive design. Stay tuned as we embark on this enlightening journey to make the web a place for everyone.