This past month, we’ve been highlighting a few of the web development trends that you’ll see more of in 2020. The trend we are looking at in this article is one that you experience as a website user, rather than see web accessibility. Web accessibility ensures there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites. When sites are correctly designed, nearly all users will have equal functionality and access to information. Unfortunately, web accessibility is something that people without impairments often take for granted.
American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)
In the United States, plaintiffs have filed numerous lawsuits challenging websites and mobile apps, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. A blind user filed one such lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza after being unable to use Domino’s mobile app. The federal district court ruled in favour of Domino’s since the Justice Department hadn’t yet established the guidelines for web accessibility. After an appeal, the Ninth Circuit overruled the district court, saying that Domino’s is a brick-and-mortar store and must meet the ADA. Since the mobile app was an extension of their services, it must also be compliant with the ADA.
Backed by many other restaurants and retail chains, Domino’s petitioned to the Supreme Court, arguing that customers with impairments have other, more accessible means to order. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which effectively upheld the decision of the 9th Circuit Court and required the case to be heard as it stands.
Website accessibility is good business
Regardless of what side the courts favor, it’s essential to pay attention to accessibility issues while designing your website, if for no other reason than it being good business. Your potential customers will come from a variety of backgrounds, have different impairments and needs. You should create your website so that all customers can fully utilize it. What are some of the things that you should pay attention to?
Visual impairments include blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, and colour blindness. Just because they don’t see the same way someone with 20/20 vision does, doesn’t mean that the 45 million blind people around the world don’t want to use the internet. But, for that to happen, some adjustments need to be made at the design level of each website.
- Text and images should be large or enlargeable, so users with poor sight can more easily read and understand the content.
- Underline links to differentiate them from other text. Underlining the links ensures that color blind users will be able to notice them.
Deafness or hearing impairment affects five percent of the population, 466 million people worldwide. This number includes people born deaf and those who have lost auditory function due to age and damage to their hearing. Hearing loss can be very isolating, and hearing aids are often not effective. To allow all people to use your website, do one of the following:
- Include closed captioning for videos.
- Have a sign language version is available.
1.2 percent of American adults—about 3.4 million—have epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures. Visual strobe or flashing effects can trigger photo epileptic seizures. While not all people with epilepsy are sensitive to flashing lights, about one in four thousand people are.
- Avoid using flashing effects or at least make them optional.
- If you use flashing lights on your site, include a warning to prevent risk to users with photosensitive.
Cognitive and Intellectual Impairments
Cognitive and intellectual impairments include developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities which affect memory, attention, problem-solving, and logic skills, and learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, etc.
- Write content in plain language.
- Include illustrations, instructional diagrams, and animations.
- Add a video that explains the content to offer one more way for users to learn.
Motor or Mobility Impairment
Motor or mobility impairment difficulty or inability to use the hands, tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine motor control, etc. These impairments are often a result of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, etc.;
- Create large, clickable links to help people who cannot control a computer mouse with precision.
- Code pages to allow navigation by using a keyboard or a single switch access device alone so that users do not need to use a mouse or a standard keyboard.
Accessibility issues extend to anyone who is experiencing a situational disability. Situational disability refers to someone who is having trouble using a website to its maximum functionality due to their current situation. For example, a person may be situationally one-handed if they are carrying a baby. While developing your website, be mindful of the wide variety of barriers users encounter.