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Nathan Gaidai
Table of Contents

What is Web Accessibility?

Table of Contents

We live in an era where available online tools have enhanced our daily routines, and the internet has become a primary source of information, entertainment, communication, and e-commerce. Expansion of the internet increased the number of people that use its benefits. Therefore, the number of people with disabilities using it also grew. It is assessed that currently, there are over 1 billion people with disabilities.

This raised the issue of addressing the needs of disabled internet users for ethical, legal, and economic reasons since, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population possesses some disability.

Web accessibility, in this way, impacts the quality of their life and your businesses. Suppose we put aside the importance of inclusiveness of modern technologies, companies still do not make their products available to around 25% of their potential customers. This impacts their profitability and revenues extensively.

Having this in mind, we use this blog to elaborate on the term web accessibility, why it is important, what it includes and how you can boost your website’s accessibility.

So let’s start the journey!

What is Disability?

There are several definitions and typologies according to which we grasp what disability is. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 defined “disability”  as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. In this perspective, it is more legal than a medical term since it includes people with impairment rather than disability in its full scale. 

Additionally, we often forget that all of us can have a permanent or temporary disability at some point in life due to accidents. A simple example is a migraine which can impact any of us, and if your website doesn’t have the proper contrast, this can aggravate your condition.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adds to a disability’s importance by addressing access to information and communications technologies, including the web, and defining it as a fundamental human right.

Different Classifications of Disability

If we speak about categories or groups/types of disabilities, we can divide them into four loosely defined groups:

  • Physical, which focuses on paralysis or loss of motor control issues.
  • Intellectuals such as developmental delays or Down’s Syndrome.
  • Mental illnesses include disorders like depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, etc.
  • Sensory issues like deafness or blindness.

There is also a typology according to which disability is divided into three modes: 

  • Permanent 
  • Temporary
  • Conditional or situational

Assistive Technologies

One huge asset to those with some impairments is the recent expansion of the technologies that help in day-to-day tasks. In this sphere, assistive technologies are most required to make web browsing possible for those people with disabilities. These technologies can be pieces of equipment, software programs, or product systems used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. 

Assistive technologies include traditional technology or tools, such as mobility aids – such as wheelchairs. Today we are expanding assistive technologies such as cognitive aids, including software for computers or electrical assistive devices such as screen reading devices.

Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computers and mobile devices.

This sphere further transfers to the web browsers, websites, and applications that may use daily. Therefore designers and developers need to find a way to adapt assistive technologies to follow guidelines and principles while making the world wide web accessible to those with disabilities.

Web Accessibility

After discussing and defining what disability is and how assistive technologies developed over time, it is essential to adapt mentioned technologies to our modern ways of living. 

Accessibility can be defined as the ability to access all devices and services we mentioned equally by the people with disability in the same manner as they are available to anyone else. 

This opens the door to a massive part of the problem – web accessibility– that assistive technologies need to tackle. As mentioned, we become dependent on the internet, and more and more every day, we become dependent on the tools that the web offers us, making our lives easier. Therefore, we need to ensure that these modern tools are equally accessible to all and that these tools have features for those people with disability.

Web Accessibility 101

Web accessibility, in essence, requires designing and developing websites/applications and platforms that are accessible to people regardless of the form of accessibility they have. This is achieved by following accessibility principles and providing content adaptable to disabled people. 

Most often, accessibility is not a primary concern for web developers when designing and creating a website. This can cause issues and require more resources, such as time or money, than if it was incorporated from the beginning. 

The core idea in designing a website/platform/app accessible to all lays the compatibility of accessibility and usability. The first reflects on content meant for people with disabilities, while the second focuses on user experience that covers all users and does not segregate. 

An additional issue is that we often encounter websites that fulfill only a tiny portion of accessibility principles or guidelines, making the websites partially accessible or accessible to only certain users with disability. Based on this observation, creating an accessible website requires you to make users access your content despite any disabilities, whether temporary or permanent. 

What to Keep in Mind When Designing an Accessible Website

To assure your site is accessible, a base for it should be mobility impairments. This disability makes accessing tools such as a keyboard or mouse challenge. Therefore a way to make your site accessible is to use features such as screen readers, logical tab order and keyboard commands, skip links, and many more. 

Many issues that people with disabilities experience are related to photosensitive and flashing content. In this manner, epilepsy and photosensitive features can be triggered by flashing light images or patterns, making a significant part of the content inaccessible to part of the population. 

Besides visual disability, web accessibility needs to address people with auditory disabilities such as deafness (complete or partial loss of hearing) or hearing impairment with a certain level of deafness. This group of people with disability has increased inconvenience due to the rising number of audio formats used, such as videos, podcasts, and audio content. 

Designers also have to consider people with cognitive impairments such as functional or clinical disabilities, including memory loss or attention deficits and dyslexia, making accessing websites challenging. 

With a better understanding of web accessibility, we must address how to achieve accessibility!

Accessibility Guidelines

The first part of achieving web accessibility is to follow the guidelines and principles we mentioned in the assistive technologies paragraph. Accessibility guidelines should be followed to make certain content on the web accessible to a broader audience. 

Technologies that help people with disabilities browse the web and use programs and apps independently have experienced their expansion. In the development process, the designers and developers needed to follow the principles that include a specific manner of creating content, including sounds and text.  

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, also known as WCAG, is a well-known accessibility standard for web content, and it has two versions. WCAG 2.0 was released in 2008, and WCAG 2.1 was released in 2018. Naturally, it is recommendable to use the 2.1 guidelines since it grasps more accessibility principles. 

Accessibility guidelines and techniques are based on four core principles:

  • Perceivable targeting sight, hearing, or touch.
  • Operable requiring compatibility with keyboard or mouse.
  • Understandable
  • Robust making it usable on browsers and other assistive technologies.

Meeting the accessibility principles can have different forms and solutions adaptable to people with disabilities. Within the same scope of accessibility guidelines, one should consider the legislative regulations that need to be followed. 


One of the ways to implement WCAG 2.0 is to include this as one of the legal requirements that several countries did. Countries create their own set of laws and requirements to ensure that the accessibility principles are followed, especially web accessibility and the compliance of their public sector websites with these principles. 

Legislation on accessibility has also been highly influential in bringing accessible technologies closer to those in need and protecting their rights. This led to the development of legal practices and court cases, ensuring that companies take web accessibility seriously. Lawsuits have proven that accessibility is taken seriously, and different people with disabilities have sued companies because of their inaccessible websites. These websites didn’t support the assistive technologies of the users.

Why is Website Accessibility Important? 

So far, we have already disclosed some of the extensive reasoning behind the question: “Why is web accessibility important?” especially after adapting to the pandemic and sheltered life we all had. This also means that a significant part of those who live with disabilities do not have access to the same features, information, and products.

Suppose we put aside equality as the primary and most important reason we need to implement web accessibility principles. In that case, there are several other reasons why you need to consider it.

  • We have mentioned the legality and importance of compliance with accessibility principles and guidelines. This is also a way to avoid lawsuits and legal proceedings.
  • Business benefits are another reason why accessibility is essential. This brings closer business owners and people with disabilities who represent a significant part of the market and consumers. If they want to make a profit and be accessible to these target groups, they need to ensure that their products and services are reachable to them by making their website/app/platform accessible. This impacts the profitability and revenues of all businesses.
  • Accessibility of your business great way to make a reputation is to set an inclusive image of their brand.
  • Web accessibility expands your reach of customers, following the trends of increasing internet customers and easy accessibility to those unable to visit the store or access your services, making the need for an accessible website more significant.

Tips to Make Your Site Accessible

Considering all mentioned issues and accessibility obstacles for those with disabilities, it is important to consider all groups of people and implement WCAG 2.1 guidelines. We also bring you various tips on making your site web-accessible:

For those individuals dealing with physical disabilities, keyboard accessibility is one of the most important features one uses. Therefore developers should include logical keyboard commands and coordinate shortcut keys with assistive devices.

When it comes to people who have visual or audio impediments, it is important to keep certain features included in the design of your website or application, such as transcripts, subtitles, captions, and sign language. These should be featured in your video content and websites. 

For those individuals with visual impairments, it is important to consider the contrast in the content you provide, audio descriptions, labels for buttons, a specific form of text size, and underlying the text that includes links for those who are colorblind, which can in this way differentiate it in the content. 

Web accessibility can include adaptations such as excluding components that flash more than three times per second or the option to freeze the image, adjusting the contrast ratio. Mechanisms can do this for suppression or manual user feature to adapt flashing content to their needs. 

For website developers, it’s best to think about cognitive disorders from a functional point of using proper font size, headings, and lists breaking down the content into small paragraphs and bullet points.


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