When designing websites, user experience is something that many designers take into consideration. While you may be considering the experience of many, you may be missing out on a key population, people with disabilities. Not only do those who have different levels of abilities interact with your content, but they also make up approximately 1 in 4 adults in the United States of America. If you truly want to make your content user friendly, you need to embrace accessible content creation and develop your digital presence with people’s disabilities in mind.
Many designers lack experience with accessible website creation; however, it is important that you learn these key lessons. Whether someone is blind, deaf or unable to use a mouse, there are a wide array of reasons why they may not be able to interact with the content you created. Lucky for you, there is a lot that designers and creators can do to create more accessible spaces for people with disabilities.
If you aren’t convinced that creating accessible website content is essential, it is important that you also understand your legal responsibilities. The reality is that there are legal mandates that require access and prohibit discrimination based upon a disability, including Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These regulations outline the rights, responsibilities and protections for individuals with disabilities.
Web Accessibility Standards and Initiatives
Because many website designers and content creators have very little experience in this area, it is important to know what resources are out there. Web accessibility rules and best practices are outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the World Wide Web Consortium. These outline the various ways that creators and designers can make their websites more accessible. There are even tools available online to help you test your content.
Different Types of Disabilities
When you are creating an accessible website, you also need to understand disabilities present different challenges and solutions. For those with vision loss or who are blind, they may use a braille keyboard or navigate a website with a keyboard and voiceover software. This user’s needs would vary distinctly from someone who has hearing loss, as they will require captions for audio content. It is important to consider how different users may interact differently.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of creating accessible content is to not assume that every user interacts with your content in the same way. If you want to be a part of creating a better world, make sure that you take the time to create a world where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to engage.