Make your Website Accessible
Due to the integration of the internet into our daily lives, it has become extremely important that websites are as accessible as possible to our fellow citizens who may suffer from a disability. Most of the existing websites and also the majority of new ones are built without accessibility in mind. In fact, only 2% of the 350 million active websites have some kind of accessibility compliance. This wide disproportion is known as the “web accessibility gap”.
Most people underestimate the number of online users whose disabilities affects their ability to access a website in a satisfactory manner. In the United States alone there are more than thirty seven million people who are either visually impaired, hearing impaired, subject to seizures or epilepsy, or who are mobility impaired.
There are four main guiding principles of accessibility. These four principles are known by the acronym POUR for perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. POUR is a way of approaching web accessibility by breaking it down into these four main aspects. Many of the technology challenges faced by disabled people/people with disabilities can be described using one of the POUR principles.
Each of these items by themselves may not provide a complete picture and flag all accessibility issues but taken in concert should give you a good picture of the accessibility status of your website.
Methods to make a website accessible vary depending on whether you are building a new site from scratch or working with an existing site. Also, the size of the organization will dictate the resources that can be devoted to accessibility. Many large companies have full time teams whose sole responsibilities are to test and remediate their corporate websites.
For purposes of this article, we are going to assume that the website is for a small to mid-sized organization who may have a budget to make the site accessible, but not the full-time staff available to a larger company. The website may be under development or there may be an existing site.
It is important to understand that accessibility is not binary, as it comes in degrees of success. As new content or functionalities are added to a website, they must be made accessible. Every time an accessibility enhancement is added, it moves the site a rung higher on the accessibility ladder and provides immense benefit to users who may be dealing with a disability.
For a new website there are numerous resources on the web for basic steps to follow to provide an accessible foundation. Basic steps include:
- Choose a development platform that supports accessibility
- Use headings correctly to organize your content structure
- Include descriptive alt text for all of your images
- Links must have unique and descriptive names
- Be very careful with color to make sure your contrast is readable for those who may be vision impaired
- Design all forms to be accessible
- Use tables for tabular data, not for layout
- Ensure that all content is accessible with the keyboard alone in a logical manner
- Make dynamic content accessible. This includes screen overlays, popups, and modal dialogues
- Use ARIA roles only when necessary
If you are hiring a developer to build your site, you should have an accessibility discussion with the company to see if they are familiar with accessibility requirements. They should also be able to provide guidance on how to make sure future changes to the website will not negatively impact the accessibility.
Once a new site is launched, we strongly recommend you utilize an AI solution as outlined below to assist your ongoing compliance efforts.
For existing websites there are a number of methods you can use as we discussed to check your site for accessibility. Once the accessibility issues are identified you may choose to manually remediate them. This method works but it is very time consuming and can be extremely expensive. It is not uncommon for the cost of manual remediation to exceed the actual cost of the initial website build.
There have been exciting developments in the past few years with Artificial Intelligence (AI) being used to help make sites accessible. AI solutions use image recognition and contextual understanding to scan and analyze sites to learn about their elements and how they function. In the browser session they can then adjust elements such as alt tags, icons, buttons, forms, and validations to fit the user’s screen reader. Issues are automatically identified and the remediation process automatically invoked to make your site compliant.
Most of the AI solutions currently on the market make the claim to make a website totally accessible and compliant with WCAG 2.0. While this may be true in some cases, we have found that you can get “mostly there” but will still need to take steps to manually remediate issues that AI can’t address and also remediate any PDF files on your site.
Our Recommended AI Solution for Accessibility
Moore Tech Solutions has become an agency partner with Userway, a powerful Web Accessibility solution for WCAG compliance. Userway is the industry leader when it comes to web accessibility. We are excited to be able to offer their cloud-based products to help make websites more accessible.
How Does UserWay Work?
A simple snippet of code is inserted into your website and UserWay gets to work, monitoring your site for violations and making adjustments on the fly. Sites using the Userway Pro Accessibility Widget can achieve more than 90%+ WCAG compliance! Additional options are available for manual remediation, managed compliance, and PDF remediation.
- Userway remediates website code in the same way for all site visitors.
- The algorithm works primarily in the browser and is private.
- UserWay’s screen reader is available for users who do not have their own and is intuitive so requires no training.
- UserWay uses multiple AI image identification protocols, to ensure the best possible image alt provisioning; and it is easy to optionally match these suggestions to your brand voice.
- UserWay is a full-service provider, with accessibility certified experts available to augment the automated services with training, one-on-one office hours, design consultation when needed or requested.
- The same remediated code is presented equally to all users.
- Privacy preserving. UserWay does not track user types / people with disabilities
- Flexible user-triggered remediations, to address any single disability, or a set of multiple disabilities
Check Your Website for Accessibilty Inspector
UserWay User-Triggered Accessibility Functions
- Screen Reader
- Bigger Text
- Color Saturation
- Contrast +
- Smart Contrast
- Highlight Links
- Pause Animations
- Text Spacing
- Line Height
- Text Align
- Dyslexia Friendly
- Big Cursor
- Page Structure
Pricing for UserWay’s AI-Powered Accessibility Widget
- Small site – up to 100k page views/month $490/year or $49/month.
- Medium site – up to 1M page views/month $1,290/year or $129/month
- Large site – up to 10M page views/month $329/month or $3,290/year
** One-Time Setup is $199 – Includes setup and integration of the Userway widget with custom colors to match your site theme, site review and adjustments to ensure visual integrity, and updating your website’s Accessibility Statement.
- Full suite of AI-powered accessibility functions
- More than 90% + WCAG compliance
- Fully customizable
- Continuous real-time accessibility monitor
- Link to Accessibility statement
Moore Tech Solutions provides setup and integration services of Userway.
If you would prefer to deal with UserWay directly you can select your accessibility plan here.
The Future of Accessibility
Making websites accessible to those who are disabled can make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people with disabilities worldwide. AI has the power to bridge the web accessibility gap in a fast and accurate way. Accessibility sets your website apart and showcases your commitment to making your website available to everyone – all while boosting SEO, search rankings, conversions and your bottom line!