How to address accessibility standards in web development?

By Ludo Fourrage

Last Updated: April 9th 2024

Too Long; Didn't Read:

Web accessibility is crucial for inclusivity in web development, benefiting over a billion people globally. Adhering to standards like WCAG and legal frameworks such as the ADA is imperative to avoid legal repercussions. Implementing accessibility leads to better user experience and upholds societal values.

Web accessibility is a huge deal if you want your site to be inclusive for everyone, including folks with disabilities. That's like, over a billion people worldwide, a massive 15% of the global population.

It's not just a nice thing to do, it's a legit human right, according to the United Nations. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the law, either. Standards like WCAG and laws like the ADA make it mandatory to have an accessible website.

You could face some serious legal consequences if you don't follow the rules. The ADA and Section 508 lay out clear guidelines for creating a web without barriers, so you can't plead ignorance.

  • Global Impact: Accessible sites serve over a billion people globally.
  • Legal Compliance: Following WCAG and laws like the ADA is a must.
  • Inclusive Experience: Accessibility ensures everyone enjoys a barrier-free web, no exclusions.
  • Social Responsibility: Digital inclusion and equal opportunities are reflective of what society values these days.

When you make web accessibility a priority, you're not only following the law but also playing a role in making technology more empowering for everyone.

It's the right thing to do, ethically speaking. Plus, principles of accessible design can actually improve the user experience for all, so it's a win-win situation.

In our Full-Stack Development program at Nucamp, we emphasize the legal implications and compliance strategies for accessibility. We want to train developers who are socially responsible and proactive about creating an inclusive online space.

Table of Contents

  • Legal Requirements for Accessibility
  • Essentials of Accessible Design
  • Tools for Evaluating Accessibility
  • Implementing Accessibility in Development
  • Testing for Web Accessibility
  • Case Studies on Accessibility
  • Conclusion: Making Accessibility a Priority
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Legal Requirements for Accessibility

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Web accessibility is a big deal nowadays, and it's not just about ticking some legal boxes. The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are like the global standard for making websites inclusive for everyone.

We're talking versions 2.0 and 2.1 here. Following these guidelines isn't just a compliance thing; it shows that your company cares about being inclusive and socially responsible.

Places like the EU and Australia have laws that incorporate WCAG principles, so you have to play by their rules if you want to operate in those markets. And the US, where the ADA is pushing hard for barrier-free access to websites and online services.

The number of lawsuits related to web accessibility in the US has skyrocketed, from just 262 in 2016 to a whopping 2,200+ in 2018.

That's a clear sign that enforcement is getting serious, and it's a global trend, too. Countries like Canada and Israel have their own laws emphasizing inclusive design.

So, if you're a web developer, here's what you have to do:

  • Early Integration: Bake accessibility features into your designs from the get-go, so you don't have to scramble and overhaul everything later. It's all about following best practices for responsive web design.
  • Continuous Evaluation: Keep using tools and audits to stay compliant and improve the user experience. Our course on accessible web design principles will give you the lowdown on this.
  • Guideline Awareness: Stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and emerging accessibility criteria. It's a moving target, so you have to stay on your toes.

Studies show that accessible websites can attract a bigger audience, save you cash, and keep you out of legal hot water.

As a senior web dev at Microsoft put it, "Making your websites accessible isn't just about avoiding legal drama; it's about tapping into the full potential of the market." So, you get to do the right thing and score some strategic benefits for your company.

It's a win-win situation!

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Essentials of Accessible Design

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Let me break it down for you about making websites accessible to everyone, including folks with disabilities. This is legit, and it's based on these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Over a billion people worldwide have some form of disability, so we gotta make sure they can access online content too.

WCAG has these four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR).

Basically, it's all about creating websites that work for everyone, no matter their abilities. Here are some key things we gotta do:

  • Provide text alternatives - Add alt text to images and non-text content, so screen readers can describe them to visually impaired users. It's all about making your content adaptable, like WCAG says.
  • Build user interfaces that work for everyone - Make sure navigation works with assistive tech, like keyboard navigation, focus indicators, and skip links.
  • Structure your content properly - Use the right HTML5 semantic elements to make information clear and understandable. It also helps assistive tech understand the hierarchy and meaning of your content.
  • Keep a consistent layout - Predictable navigation is key, especially for users who rely on familiarity to find their way around.
  • Allow adjustable text sizes - Make sure visually impaired users can read your content by letting them resize the text. And avoid designs that could trigger seizures or physical reactions.

Following WCAG's rules doesn't just open up your site to more users (which is great for business), but it's also the ethical thing to do.

As these four accessibility categories show, accessibility benefits everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Like, captions help people in noisy environments too. By making our sites accessible, we're giving around 15% of the world's population with disabilities a chance to access online content.

It's not just a "nice to have" - it's their right. When we build websites, we gotta make sure they're ethical, inclusive, and follow legal standards for equal opportunity online.

Tools for Evaluating Accessibility

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Web accessibility is the new cool, and these tools will help you slay that game in 2023. WAVE, axe Accessibility Checker, and Google Lighthouse are the OGs you gotta check out.

WAVE alone gets over a million scans monthly, so you know it's lit!

Here's the 411 on how to make the most of these:

  • Pick your weapon: Free options like WAVE or axe are dope for starters, but if you want the full monty, consider splurging on premium services like Siteimprove with their team of accessibility ninjas.
  • Scan that site: Run your website through your chosen tool to sniff out any accessibility hiccups, like wonky alt texts, contrast issues, keyboard navigation fails, and missing ARIA labels. accessScan and ACTF aDesigner got your back for WCAG compliance and disability simulations, too.
  • Analyze the intel: Go through the audit results and prioritize the major issues that affect the most users. Tota11y and aDesigner will help you decode those violations like a boss.
  • Fix it up: Tackle those accessibility hurdles one by one, following WCAG guidelines. Don't forget to check out axe DevTools Mobile for seamless web and mobile compatibility.
  • Rerun that scan: After making changes, a retest is a must to ensure everything's smooth sailing. Automated tools like axe make retesting a breeze.

Word on the street is that using multiple tools together is the way to go for maximum accuracy.

Pair up an automated tool like Google Lighthouse, which gives you the full scoop on accessibility performance scores, with some human expertise, and you'll cover all the bases.

As one web accessibility guru put it,

"Automated tools can catch up to 30% of known accessibility issues, but human judgment is vital to cover the full gamut of web accessibility hurdles,"

so don't sleep on that insider knowledge.

By tapping into these resources, you'll be slaying the web accessibility game and creating content that works for everyone, no caps!

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

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Implementing Accessibility in Development

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Making websites accessible for everyone is important. It's all about following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which lay down the rules for making sites perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users.

You need a step-by-step guide to tackle this properly.

  1. First up, set your accessibility goals based on the WCAG 2.1 levels A, AA, or AAA. Know what you're aiming for.
  2. Make those wireframes and mockups accessible from the get-go, checking contrast ratios, text sizes, and navigation.
  3. Write semantic HTML and use ARIA labels when coding so screen readers can do their thing.
  4. Let users interact however they want, with keyboard navigation and flexible inputs.
  5. Run accessibility checks with tools like axe Accessibility Checker or WAVE, both automated and manual.

However, it is not always smooth sailing.

Developers often underestimate the accessibility scope or deal with tight budgets, making it tough to stay consistent. That's where you need to:

  • Highlight the importance of accessibility early on, like the fact that 15% of the world's population has some disability.
  • Build components with accessibility in mind using a modular approach, making it easier to scale and maintain.
  • Get your team trained up on the latest accessibility practices and standards.

At the end of the day, making the internet inclusive is not just a nice-to-have – it's a game-changer.

By following these steps and strategies, you'll not only reach a wider audience but also unlock new levels of innovation. Accessibility is not a burden; it's an integral part of the development process that'll make the internet a better place for everyone.

Testing for Web Accessibility

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Accessibility testing is crucial when building websites. It ensures that people with disabilities can access and use the site without any issues. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the industry standard, so you gotta follow them.

Automated tools like WAVE and axe Accessibility Checker can help you catch basic mistakes like missing alt text or low color contrast.

They're a solid starting point, but you can't rely on them alone.

Manual testing is key. You gotta navigate your site using just the keyboard and test it with screen readers.

And don't forget to involve people with disabilities in your user testing sessions. They'll give you real insights into the challenges they face. As Karl Groves says, automated testing is just one step towards accessibility.

Here's a quick checklist to make sure your site is accessible:

  1. Tools: Run automated scanners like WAVE to catch basic accessibility issues.
  2. Manual Review: Do manual testing, like using Diagnostic.css for visual checks and reviewing content.
  3. Real-world Validation: Test with real users, including people with disabilities, as recommended by BOIA.org, to get real-world insights.
  4. Guideline Comprehension: Use checklists like WCAG Quick Reference to thoroughly assess all guidelines.
  5. Actionable Results: Document your findings and create a prioritized plan to fix issues.

Experts agree that involving people with disabilities in user testing is crucial for creating truly inclusive websites.

You gotta combine automated and manual testing methods to make your site accessible for everyone. That way, you're not just doing the right thing, but also making your site better for all users.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Case Studies on Accessibility

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Check this out - the web world is getting accessible! Some big names out there are showing us how it's done. Like, have you seen the BBC website? Those media peeps got it on lock - keyboard navigation, screen reader support, custom text sizes, the whole nine yards.

They follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) like a bible, making their site a true accessibility champion.

We can learn a thing or two from these accessibility bosses:

  • Start Early: Bake accessibility into your design process from the jump, and it'll save you headaches (and cash) down the line.
  • Test, Test, Test: Keep testing that accessibility game, and your site will stay compliant and give users a sweet experience.
  • User-Centric Design: Put your users first, like how Barclays killed it with their online banking. That's how you get mad adoption and satisfied customers.

But it's not just the big dogs doing it.

E-commerce giants like Amazon are setting the bar with accessible product descriptions and site navigation. Even Ivy League schools like Harvard are making sure their online courses are accessible to all.

And in the health game, platforms like Mayo Clinic are making medical info available to everyone with their slick, accessible designs.

Bottom line: Companies that follow the ADA and WCAG standards aren't just avoiding legal drama; they're tapping into a whole new customer base.

Accessibility ain't just about checking boxes; it's an innovative mindset that's opening up the digital world to everyone. More and more industries are catching on to this inclusivity wave, and it's a game-changer.

Conclusion: Making Accessibility a Priority

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Let me break it down for you. Web accessibility is the real deal these days, and you gotta get with the program if you wanna be a legit web dev. Just look at all those lawsuits that went down in 2022, especially in states like New York and Cali.

Those lawyers ain't playing around, and if you're slacking on accessibility, you might end up in hot water.

But it's not just about staying out of trouble.

With the new WCAG 2.2 standards dropping and WCAG 3.0 on the way, making your websites accessible to everyone is the right thing to do. And - by keeping accessibility in mind from the start, you could see up to a 20% boost in user engagement.

That's some serious numbers.

So, how do you get on board with this accessibility grind? First up, you gotta educate your squad on why it matters for the user experience.

Then, you gotta embrace inclusive design, test your sites for accessibility regularly, and stay up-to-date on the latest standards. Check out these Nucamp articles for some solid guidance.

And - digital accessibility lawsuits are only gonna keep rising, so you better get your act together.

But don't sweat it too much.

If your bosses get on board and set up some incentive programs to reward accessible design, you'll be rolling in style. We're on the right track, and with tech advancements and more people waking up to the importance of inclusivity, the future of the web is looking accessible.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why is web accessibility important?

Web accessibility is crucial for inclusivity in web development, benefiting over a billion people globally. Adhering to standards like WCAG and legal frameworks such as the ADA is imperative to avoid legal repercussions. Implementing accessibility leads to better user experience and upholds societal values.

What are the global impacts of accessible websites?

Accessible websites serve over a billion individuals globally, ensuring that everyone, including individuals with disabilities, can effectively navigate and engage with digital content.

How can developers ensure legal compliance in web development?

Adherence to WCAG and legal frameworks like the ADA is imperative for legal compliance in web development. Following these standards is not simply advisable but a necessity to avoid legal repercussions.

What are the principles of accessible web design?

The core principles of accessible web design include being perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR). Adhering to these principles ensures that all users, regardless of ability, can engage with online content.

How can developers evaluate and test for web accessibility?

Developers can evaluate and test for web accessibility using tools like WAVE, axe, and Google Lighthouse. Automated and manual testing, along with involving people with disabilities in user testing, are essential components of ensuring web accessibility.

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Ludo Fourrage

Founder and CEO

Ludovic (Ludo) Fourrage is an education industry veteran, named in 2017 as a Learning Technology Leader by Training Magazine. Before founding Nucamp, Ludo spent 18 years at Microsoft where he led innovation in the learning space. As the Senior Director of Digital Learning at this same company, Ludo led the development of the first of its kind 'YouTube for the Enterprise'. More recently, he delivered one of the most successful Corporate MOOC programs in partnership with top business schools and consulting organizations, i.e. INSEAD, Wharton, London Business School, and Accenture, to name a few. ​With the belief that the right education for everyone is an achievable goal, Ludo leads the nucamp team in the quest to make quality education accessible