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The Basics of Website Accessibility


Website accessibility is about making your website user-friendly for everyone, including those with disabilities. However, achieving this isn't as simple as it sounds. Let's break it down.

The Challenge of Website Accessibility

Here's where things get tricky. Because everyone is different, what works for one person might not work for another. Let's say some users prefer a minimalist website with lots of white space because it's easier for them to concentrate. But for others, this might mean a lot of scrolling, which can be cumbersome. Balancing these diverse needs is challenging; we can't always make everything perfect for everyone. But that doesn't stop us from trying our best!

Levels of Accessibility: The WCAG Guidelines

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help navigate these challenges. These guidelines are categorized into three levels of accessibility:

  1. Level A is the bare minimum and addresses the most glaring issues, such as providing text alternatives for audio and video content, proper use of headings, and labels for form elements
  2. Level AA tackles the most common barriers for disabled users, like changing the color contrast to make the text easier to read, video captions, not using images to convey text, and clear use of keyboard focus.
  3. Level AAA is the top level and includes the most complex adjustments, such as a sign language option for videos, content not above the reading level of 9th grade, and no auto-formatting of form input. But even the WCAG acknowledges that not all sites will be able to achieve this level.

For most websites on the internet, level AA and some level AAA is the target that needs to be hit. 

Importance of Accessibility Statement

Regardless of the level you aspire to create, every website needs an accessibility statement (see ours here). This statement outlines your commitment to accessibility and provides a way for users to contact you if they encounter problems. In many court cases where website owners were penalized, it wasn't the specific accessibility issue that led to their downfall but their lack of responsiveness and empathy when these problems were pointed out. Just like Nixon!

When to Seek Professional Help

If you aim for full AAA compliance with the accessibility standards, you may want to consider getting professional help. Some specialists can perform thorough accessibility audits and guide you on how to fix any issues. However, be prepared for significant costs for such services, often in the 5-figure range just for the audits (and that's before any work is done to fix the problems).

Final Thoughts

Making a website accessible is no easy feat—it's a complex process with many factors to consider. But despite the challenges, our commitment is to do our best and make the web a more inclusive space. Always remember that everyone deserves to use the web easily. Together, we can make that a reality.

Noah Britton

Hi, I'm Noah Britton, the founder of Thrive. I focus on understanding our client's goals and proposing solutions including branding, website design, and marketing. After 20 years in business, I've earned the grey hairs and expertise needed to knock your project out of the park.

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