Accessibility Overview

Note: We’re improving the handbook and it is still a draft. If you find an error, please comment below.

What is web accessibility? What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent access to websites by people with disabilities.
Wikipedia

The Web is for everyone, not just those who see, hear and move well. Building your website for inclusion, rather than exclusion, increases access for people of all abilities; as well as for all types of browsers and search engines.

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What does a11y mean? What does a11y mean?

Accessibility is often abbreviated as a11y; “a” is the first character of the word, and “y” the last , with 11 characters in between. (similar to i18n for “internationalization”). So when you tweet about accessibility, use the hashtags #a11y or #wpa11y.

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Consider these people Consider these people

Here are some challenges users encounter on inaccessible websites:

  • Petya has arthritis and cannot use a mouse, She uses a keyboard but cannot activate a hamburger menu.
  • Sevag has Parkinson’s disease. His hands are not steady enough to mouse-click on a link with tiny text.
  • Bram uses a screen reader. He struggles to understand a page’s content because its markup has no logical heading structure.
  • Amanda is blind. Links that are an image or an icon font, with no link text, are effectively invisible to her.
  • Carlos is color blind. He can’t distinguish the red links from the black text.
  • Mohammed is in his 50s. His eyesight has degraded. He can no longer read small grey text on top a darker grey background.
  • Pooja has ADD. A distracting animation in the sidebar, with no user-control for stopping, prevents her from focusing on the page content.
  • Eva is deaf. A video without subtitles is unusable to her.
  • Cheng has Down syndrome. He can’t comprehend the content of a webpage because the writing is unnecessarily complicated.
  • Wend Yam lives in Western Africa. He has a slow Internet connection. Sites bloated with heavy scripts and images keep him from browsing a substantial portion of the Web.

These people — and many more like them — already face lots of life challenges. By adopting the a11y best practices you can ensure your website does not add their challenges.

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Consider your business Consider your business

An inclusive website enhances your business. It will:

  • Increase Traffic. More people can complete orders in your web shop.
  • Comply with the Law. Your website is better prepared to adhere to your nation’s accessibility regulations and government contract requirements.
  • Improve SEO. Google, the largest user of the internet, is blind and deaf.

The website you build is not for you, or even your client. It’s for the users. Increasing accessibility instantly gains you a larger potential user-base.

Entire countries are among this increased user-base: Israel, Norway and Australia require all company websites to be accessible. Many other nations have laws regarding website accessibility.

Another vital group of users with neither sight nor hearing are search engines. Improving accessibility improves your site’s Google visibility, thus improving your search engine optimization.

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Consider your development process Consider your development process

For developers web accessibility means a way of thinking often called progressive enhancement:

  1. Let the HTML tell the content.
  2. Let the CSS present the content.
  3. Let the JavaScript interact with the content.

This division helps you create websites that are more easier to maintain and update, and is considered to be a (c)lean approach to web development.

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In Sum In Sum

A11y includes everyone when building websites. Think of it as your ally in optimizing your website’s user-experience, for as many people as possible, while furthering your business or organizational goals.