Web Accessibility: For One, For All

Web accessibility standards help to provide the assurance that your website is available and usable to all of users out there surfing the wonderful World Wide Web.  Be they limited by mobility issues, by vision deficiencies, by hearing problems or even cognitive issues, it is no reason that any of us should be denied access to the world of information and entertainment available via the internet.   

One could look at the need for web accessibility from two main motivational perspectives: the business and the righteous.  Let’s go the business route before climbing up on the soapbox. 

A Business Oriented Perspective

  • Lost Potential Customers:  Customers are hard enough to obtain.  Why filter out a whole group of people from the get go?
  • Public Image:  Being indifferent to disabled customer will probably go over about as well as kicking puppies.
  • Potential Liability:  Federal civil rights laws are in place to ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities.  Currently this applies mainly to accessibility at physical locations.  Yet, recent court cases have shown that those stores with a physical presence are now bound to a similar principle for their web fronts as well.  
  • Additional Benefits:  An easily navigable, content rich site with content rich alt text is good for everyone, including those trying to find your website via Google.  Living up to many of the web accessibility standards is also likely to help your search engine optimization and to make your site easier for all of your customers’ usage.

 Another Reason to Climb on Board

My mom has spent the last couple of months with tendonitis in her right arm.  Basically, it means that she has shooting pains through her arm to her finger tips.  To get better, she isn’t supposed to use it for however many months it takes for it to stop hurting.  She has adjusted to things like eating with her left hand.  Of course, she has declared flossing with one hand absolutely impossible.  She has told me that she always remembers to wear her sling to the grocery store.  She has found that people go out of their way to help her.  For instance, at Wal-mart the checkout ladies always have someone come help carry her groceries out. Frankly, she needs it and she is grateful. 

With an online store front, we don’t have the obvious reminder of our clientele’s physical limitations.  We don’t necessarily know why they turned away from our website.  I’d be embarrassed of myself if I didn’t help someone else’s mom struggling with an arm in a sling and wrestling with their groceries or if I carelessly blocked the ramp access to my local Publix.  I should be just as aware to know if I am blocking access to information or denying access of my product to a blind customer online. 

So, now you’re in right?  Visit this link to review some bad design and follow it through to identify some quality accessibility design.

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