What is Web accessibility?
According to Wikipedia, “Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.”
As your customers or audience are aging or develop challenges you will want to build your Website properly so that access won’t be limited or exclusive.
I am a Web developer for Tina Reed Johnson where we use WordPress web software for websites. And, anytime we evaluate a site, we look for certain elements of usability and web-based standards for all people. That’s why, today, we are looking at Web accessibility, and explaining the principles of theme development.
Video on Web Accessibility
From the WordPress Accessibilty Handbook Quick Start Guide
From the WordPress Theme Handbook on Web Accessibility:
A WordPress theme should generate pages that everyone can use — including those who cannot see or use a mouse. The default WordPress theme generates content in a fairly accessible manner but, as a theme developer, you need to maintain these accessibility standards in your own theme. Although web accessibility can be a complex subject, it boils down to only four principles — that content must be:
Content must be available to all — no matter what user agent is employed or what senses the user lacks.
In other words, understandable by the computer (user agent) and the person (user) who needs help understanding the website. The computer needs to know how to “show” the website to the user and the user has to be able to make sense of the information.
Users must be able to move around and operate the final site effectively — irrespective of whether they use a mouse or not.
The user can provide input or navigate on website via the keyboard (using tab keys for example) or another input device (like Dragon Naturally Speaking software). The user can, also, easily view information (like using JAWS screen readers or close captioning) on the website.
The content should be presented in a manner that supports understanding — including supporting the construction of a mental model of the site for screen reader users. Similarly, the site’s operation (navigation menus, links, forms etc.) should be easily understandable. Building a theme that incorporates known user behaviours (such as underlining links within the main content area) helps in this respect.
One of the reasons we updated our WordPress website is to make it more understandable or easier to navigate. In fact, there are now many accessible WordPress themes out in the WordPress community, unlike a few years ago. So, update away! Your readers and customers will thank you.
Content must be equally available across a wide range of user agents. Disabled users may employ a range of hardware and software solutions (commonly referred to as “assistive technology”) to allow them to access the Web – including screen reading & voice recognition software; braille readers and switches (single input devices).
A common theme (no pun intended for you WordPress users) is to use web standards like HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are the brick and mortar in the world of websites and are standard technologies in use in today’s online connected world. Since every disability is different, the meaning of robustness implies that all user connected devices a disabled person uses should work.
Lastly, a quote from Tim Berners-Lee about accessible websites on the World Wide Web Consortium (or the W3C, a open standards-based committee):
“The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
So, what do you think about web accessibility? Are you ready to make your website universally readable to everyone?
Another Small Business Internet Marketing Blog by Tina Reed Johnson