The Human Element of Web Accessibility
While there are many guidelines to accessibility, the most important thing is to put the human element center stage. There are three main motivators when it comes to making your website accessible:
- Helping those with disabilities (human-centered)
- Capitalizing on more people viewing your site (marketing/economic-centered)
- Avoiding breaking the law or receiving a bad reputation (punishment-centered)
Regardless of your motivation, the only way to check the box on accessibility is to put people at the center of the process.
Technique Vs. Principle:
Without the human element it is easy to focus on techniques instead of principles. So, what’s the difference? Let’s say you’re going to the grocery store, and the only item you need is a loaf of bread. This should be a quick five-minute task. But, when you walk in, there are no aisle signs to tell you where anything is. So, you spend 15 minutes walking up and down the isles until you finally find what you are looking for. Technically speaking, the grocery store had what you were looking for, but it was hard to find. In the same way your website may technically be accessible, but does it actually make the user’s task easier?
The POUR Method:
When considering accessibility ask: Is my website Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust (POUR) to those with disabilities.
Can the information be processed? This seems simple, but is so often overlooked. If you couldn’t hear would the video you posted relay the same information with subtitles? For those who can’t see, does your website have audio cues? Is it compatible for use with assistive technologies?
Is adaptive technology an option for those who can’t use a standard mouse? Does your website have a time limit for sensitive material, and if it does, can the user control those settings? If you accidently click on something, are there confirmation screens or error alerts, to let you recover from your mistake?
Is your text clear and easy to understand, or does it sound like an Old English novelist wrote it? No one likes reading through the same thing time and time again just to grasp a better understanding. How easy is it to find exactly what I need on your website?
When you get a new phone, do you feel lost using it? We are creatures of habit, we get used to what we know. Is your website like your new phone, where you need to learn new techniques just to operate it? Consider that there are many different web browsers, screen readers, etc. Does your website allow whoever is on it to use what they’re familiar with?
While these things may seem like common sense, when developers put technique above people, these elements are often forgotten. That is why it is important to remember the human element. You don’t want your website to just be “usable” you want it to be fully “accessible.”
To work with a web developer that puts the human element first when building a website, contact the GovUnity team today.