Why is web accessibility important for the UDRC website?
By Laura Dahl, PhD, UX Researcher
April 13, 2021
Web accessibility is an inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers to interacting with or accessing a website by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed. When a site is correctly designed and developed, generally, all users have equal access to information and functionality.
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. — Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director & inventor of the World Wide Web
Consideration of web accessibility is important because we generally want all users to access our website and its information. Nevertheless, not all users are easily able to visit websites. For example, about 20% of Americans have a recognized disability, and another 20% have age-related or injury-related needs for accessibility accommodations. Not all users can see and use a mouse or touch screen to interact with the website. Users who have disabilities interact with websites differently through the use of various devices known as assistive technologies.
How we are implementing accessibility on the UDRC website
Rather than implementing a type of checklist of accessibility on the website, we have concluded that ease of use is key to improving accessibility.
I recently did usability tests on the website, and I received some terrific feedback that helped me understand users and their needs. I created new designs for the site, and I have been implementing those new ideas on the website while also improving ease of use and accessibility.
Help for those using devices other than a desktop computer:
- I am updating the home and other pages to be responsive and readable on mobile phones and large computer screens.
- Images and other media are optimized for fast download.
Help for age-related and other issues:
- The text size on updated pages is larger and resizable.
- Bootstrap components, such as dropdown menus and image carousels, are designed to work for touch, mouse, and keyboard. These components allow for more input devices than the use of a mouse.
Help for color-blind users with the following:
- Text and graphs use colors that avoid color-blindness issues.
- Links are differentiated and show interactivity.
Help for blind users using text-to-speech software or text-to-Braille hardware with the following:
- My updates to pages include adding semantically meaningful HTML.
- I am writing more effective textual equivalents for images.
- When I update the code, it uses Bootstrap’s relevant WAI-ARIA roles and attributes. These HTML attributes should be understandable and operable using assistive technologies (such as screen readers).
These are some of the efforts that I am currently working on to improve the website and make it accessible for more users. I have learned that accessibility is much more than a checklist. Our primary focus is on the site’s usability for all users, including those who are disabled, emphasizing how well the design helps them accomplish and enjoy typical tasks.
I want to continue to receive feedback on our website to improve and accessibility. We need people to join our research pool to give us occasional feedback on the website. If you would like to join our research pool, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the short survey https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1vBawveDW7xUrweK4M1hsj11Po2pdDnnKlicBZNXkgOA. This form has been updated so anyone can fill it out.
Bialik, K. (2017, July 27). 7 facts about Americans with disabilities. PEW Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/07/27/7-facts-about-americans-with-disabilities/
Nielsen, J. (2005, November 20). Accessibility Is Not Enough. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/accessibility-is-not-enough/