Web accessibility is a process that allows people with disabilities such as the blind, the visually impaired and those with cognitive impairments who have difficulty operating their hands, people with hearing impairments, those with dyslexia, ADHD and other disabilities, to effectively consume the various content managed on the website.
Examples of different types of accessibility on a website
To illustrate how accessibility can improve the ability of people with disabilities to consume the various content on the website, we use the following examples. Of course, the content world of a site’s access is much broader than the examples presented, and should be considered with care and attention to the relevant regulations and various technological aspects of the website.
Access to blind people
Special software designed for the blind, helps the blind user to read the various contents of the website by reading aloud. The blind person should be able to read all the content on the website, read the image tags to understand what is shown in the image, identify the main and sub-headings, and activate all the links and buttons that are on the website.
Access to people with visual impairments
People with visual impairments will be able to consume the content on the website, after the site owner verifies that the contrast between the text color and the background color allows it.
Access to people with hearing impairments
In order to help those with hearing impairments to consume content provided by videos and audio, the videos should be accompanied by appropriate captions.
Access to people with cognitive impairments
People that from some kind of limitation are unable to use the mouse and need to enable the various options available on the web page using the keyboard. These options include convenient navigation through the menus on the website but also clicking on links and convenient transitions between different pages on the site.
There are of course many more requirements in the world of content for accessing sites. We will immediately explain where to find them.
Regulations and Standards
The Accessibility Regulations list the various requirements of web sites in relation to the accessible actions of the websites owners. The actions themselves are defined in Israeli Standard 5568, which is based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the international W3C organization.
According to the Accessibility Regulations, any public service website or public service information must be accessible. However, in the following cases, the site owner receives a permanent or temporary exemption from site access:
In the event that a pre-registration is required for logging on to the website or at a website less than 500 users at the same time – there is a full exemption from access, except if a disabled person has requested it.
In the case of an exempt dealer or business with a cycle of less than 100,000 NIS a year – full exemption from access.
In the case of a business with a cycle of no more than 300,000 NIS a year- exemption from access until 26/10/2020.
In the case of a business with a cycle of more than 300,000 NIS and less than 1,000,000 NIS, an existing business will receive an exemption for three years after which it will be required to re-examine its eligibility for exemption.
In the case of advertisements – there is a sweeping exemption from access.
In case of page management on social media – full exemption if the social media platform does not allow access to the website.
In case of page management on social media – full exemption if the social network infrastructure does not enable accessing websites.
4 reasons why websites are worth accessing
There are many good reasons to take action to make your website accessible:
Exposure to a broader audience
When you choose not to make the website you own accessible, you are essentially giving up a large audience in advance that could increase the business’s revenue potential. In case your competitors do not choose to do the same as you do, and make their website accessible to people with disabilities, they get a huge advantage over you in engaging with the relevant population.
Improve organic Google results
Even if it is not a direct ranking factor, people with disabilities who enter and exit your site after realizing that it is not accessible to them will signal to the search engine that they your search results page ranking might not worth the quality of service and user experience you provide to your users.
Moreover, looking forwards, it is likely that in an era where most of the websites will be optimized for mobile browsing and managed on fast and reliable infrastructure, the fields where the websites will provide added value to unique populations can provide better infrastructure for organic SEO.
Improving the image of the business
A business owner who works to make a website accessible to many people with disabilities is seen by many users as more friendly, more socially, and more sensitive to the changing needs of modern society. A good image business gets positive feedbacks, which in turn, help the business move forward and expand its operations.
Avoiding claims for lack of proper access
The law allows, under certain restrictions, any person with a disability to sue a website that had to access the various services it offers under the regulations, and did not do so. It should be noted that the website owner must correct these deficiencies in the website accessibility within 60 days of being referred.
How access a website?
A website owner can use a variety of extensions to make their website accessible according to regulations. It is important to find out, before implementing an accessibility extension, what elements of the regulations it covers. Quite a few of the website extensions offered to the website owners provide partial coverage of the regulatory requirements, and can lead to a situation where a website owner doesn’t know he is breaking the laws …
In addition, there are various companies whose specialization is making the website accessible by managing and updating the source code on the site. This method has many advantages including the ability to characterize and implement full site access in accordance with the regulations. However, in many cases, contracting with an outside company to make the access will be significantly more costly than implementing an accessibility extension on the website.
Integration of accessibility statement on the website
Once a publisher has finished making the site accessible for disabled people, he may and also expected to integrate an accessibility statement on the website. This statement will be used by the publisher to clarify which services were accessed on the website and in what form, which services were not accessed due to the exemption received by the publisher, who is the accessibility coordinator in the business, as well as other relevant details regarding the access.
Accessing your website for people with disabilities is not just a values and moral act. Such an approach can benefit the business through its exposure to relevant target audiences, enhancing its organic SEO, and highlights the positive image of the business.