Practical Steps Toward an Accessibility Mindset in 2020

Marcus Harrison
Marcus HarrisonSenior Front-End Developer
Practical Steps Toward an Accessibility Mindset in 2020

It's important that everyone, regardless of disability, has unabated access to information on the web. People with disabilities should be able to comprehend, navigate, and interact with the web just like anyone else. Who doesn't like the idea of more people using their websites?

Visual Impairment Snapshot

Just focusing on visually impaired Americans alone:

  • 4% Legally Blind
  • 9% color blind
  • 14+% with visual difficulties

This equates to millions of people!

Minimize Legal Risk - Be Proactive

The Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible. This trend will become the new normal. This is ultimately, a good thing because it brings web accessibility into the light.

The best and most practical way to minimize our legal risk is to handle web accessibility issues now. Implement a web accessibility policy. Then it becomes clear that web accessibility is something you/or your company are actively striving towards.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally."

Version 2.1 is the current version and was published on June 5th, 2018. Version 2.2 is scheduled to be published in early 2021. WCAG 2.1 breaks down accessibility guidelines into 3 levels:

  • WCAG 2.1 Level A - the most basic web accessibility features
  • WCAG 2.1 Level AA - address the most common issues for disabled users
  • WCAG 2.1 Level AAA - reserved for sites that serve the disabled community

The level you should be striving to attain on your website is Level AA. The way you achieve this is by testing your site. Here is how you can do this:

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

A list of several web accessibility testing tools can be found here. Some may fit your needs better than others. To help figure out which tool you need, you can check out W3C's Selecting Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools page.

The web accessibility tool that we use here at Texas Creative is the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool. WAVE is an evaluation tool that helps make web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. WAVE can identify many Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors, but also takes human perception of web content into consideration. 

WAVE will show your web content with embedded accessibility indicators to help you quickly spot problem areas on your website and it provides suggestions to correct them. WAVE also has browser plugins available for Chrome & Firefox.

After your site's problem areas have been identified it's time to get them corrected. Many issues can be handled by your in-house web team, or a third party company. Some graphic assets such as PDF documents, may have to get remade or altered, to be compliant with accessibility standards.

For more information on tackling web accessibility and some helpful tips on accessibility remediation, check out 3 Accessibility Gotchas and Web Accessibility: The Tabindex Attribute. Feel free to contact us to help with your website accessibility check.