What is Web Accessibility?


You may have heard phrases like “ADA compliance” and “WCAG” - what is all this about “digital” or “web” “accessibility”?

Well, first, it’s not about devices as in being accessible on mobile and desktop. Instead, it’s about technology access that’s inclusive of people with disabilities.

Being inclusive means providing alternatives like captions as an alternative to audio, and accounting for “assistive technology” - a collection of adjustments and devices that aid computer usage.

For these to work effectively, you must design and code with inclusion in mind. Some think this means creating separate experiences and only when requested. But that doesn’t provide the inclusion protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s also just not necessary as there are standards you can follow to build accessibility into your one solution.

For the Web, for instance, there are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) - a list of actionable items that consider a wide array of people and don’t take away from the overall usability or functionality of your system. Other standards cover software and other digital content as in Section 508, and telecommunications as in the CVAA.

Just using the standards doesn’t fully cover everything — just like using design best practices also needs consumer feedback to know you got it right. But they are great places to start and define what it means to be “compliant”.

In fact, knowing if you’re accessible usually starts with an accessibility audit against the applicable standards, then learning the standards and ultimately putting them into practice.

Learn more by checking out some of my other videos and resources and let’s see if we can’t start Making Accessibility Work.