Web accessibility—recommendations outlining the best ways to design and build a website for people with disabilities—have been around since the late ‘90s. In 2001, Section 508 went into effect, creating accessibility standards for government, education and nonprofit websites.
But it’s only now that web accessibility is gaining traction in the business world. Unfortunately, many myths have sprung up regarding web accessibility.
Let’s dispel the top 3:
Myth #1: Accessibility Is Only For Blind and Handicapped People
Accessibility is for everyone. Although a small percentage of users use screen readers or have vision impairment, everyone needs to be able to understand and navigate a website. Accessibility is about making your website optimized for usability. Simple choices like proper use of alt tags, high legibility and strong hierarchy do wonders for the accessibility of a website. These types of features are considered best practice and make your website a better user experience for everyone.
Myth #2: Accessible Websites are Ugly
Many elegant and beautiful websites follow accessibility standards. For example whitehouse.gov follows the Section 508 compliance standards and has one of the best user experiences on the web. The design is well refined, clean and easy to understand without being boring. On the commercial side, Apple is leading the charge with a highly accessible website, regarded by the design industry as one of the best designed websites.
Myth #3: Accessibility Is Difficult to Implement
Designing and developing an accessible website typically isn’t any more difficult. Many of the concepts and rules associated with web accessibility are now considered the best practice and common sense in the design & development community. Additional considerations for accessibility do need to be taken into account when designing, but they are easily incorporated into the overall workflow of a project.
Not every website requires or needs every accessibility guideline to be followed, but choosing the right level of accessibility for your organization is important for reaching your target audience.