The Online Corner – Accessibility Online
The Online Corner,
Submitted by Sarah Clarke, Media Strategist and Founder of Dufferin Media to snapd Dufferin/Caledon
I’ve recently completed a course for Web Accessibility and it has really opened my eyes about what an important issue this is for all of us. Online accessibility may appear at first to only be a consideration for people with obvious disabilities. For example you might immediate think this relates to those that are not able to use a computer with the use of their hands, eyes, and ears. But web accessibility goes so much further and is an issue we all need to consider.
Approximately 15% of the entire World’s population identifies as having a disability. However when we consider conditions that are not included in this category the number of people that web accessibility affects is more like 25% or more. Think about our aging population that had declining vision, or those with temporary or situational challenges that affect how they can use a computer, phone or tablet.
Becoming aware of the issue of web accessibility, and moving towards an online world that is fully accessible and fully inclusive is not just becoming law, it’s the right thing to do.
Accessibility for Your Website
If you have a website for your business or organization there are new laws coming into effect in Ontario by July 1st, 2021 (extended from January 1st 2021). These laws that will require all public facing websites for certain size companies to be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. If your website is not compliant you may face fines of up to $100,000 per day. However, the more important implication is that if your website is not accessible you are excluding a very large portion of the population from being able to use your website. This is a huge potential loss of customers and revenue.
Imagine a handicap parking spot in front of a local business. Then imagine that the parking spot has been filled with crates of product blocking it. Now a potential customer who requires accessible parking can not park or visit the business. That is the physical equivalent of having a website that is not built with accessibility in mind.
What are Ways to Make A Website More Accessible
There are many technical ways that you can make your website more accessible to those using special devices, but for the purpose of this article I’ll share some quick tips that anyone can use to make their website more accessible.
#1 Use ALT Text on all images. Also known as alternative text, when you upload an image to your website and give it an ALT text description of what that image is, any visual reader will now be able to “tell” the user what the image is. This is also very beneficial for SEO. Win/Win
#2 Include text transcripts for any video or audio content. Not only is this helpful for those with visual impairments, it is an excellent way to improve SEO.
#3 Make sure all video content includes captions for those that either can’t hear, or for situational reasons can’t have their audio on.
My goal is to help bring more awareness to accessibility issues online. If you have any thoughts or questions on this subject I would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!
I thank Victoria and the team at snapd Dufferin for the opportunity to submit this article and to work in our community together as a strategic partner.