The issue of accessibility in any environment is relatively new. A few years ago there were no ramps in the streets, schools or public buildings, not all the time public transport had the conditions to be used by people who use wheelchairs or have a disability, the acoustic traffic signals are practically new. Like these examples, you surely know more and the internet is not exempt from these improvements to achieve being a space accessible to all.
I have already been in the design world for twenty years, during this time I have collaborated and designed various websites and multimedia products with different technologies, but I have never paid attention to web accessibility.
It was not until I came to Matrushka that I heard the term when in one of our first meetings I was told that all the products they make have to meet some of the success criteria set by WCAG 2.0. Despite my previous experience, this was all new to me, so questions immediately arose.
After a while of talking with the team, reading, researching, and applying those accessibility criteria, I share the answers to the questions from that meeting.
What is WCAG 2.0?
They are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for Web 2.0, and they explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities.
What is web accessibility?
Broadly speaking, it means that websites give access to most people, regardless of their physical condition, abilities and context, allowing them to navigate, interact and contribute to the web.
The WCAG 2.0 guidelines and success criteria are organized around the following four principles, which lay the necessary foundations for anyone to access and use web content:
Perceivable: information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Operable: this means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
Understandable: users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface
Robust: content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
If any of these are not met, users with disabilities will not be able to use the Web.
Why is it important?
Because it allows people with hearing, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual disabilities to access and interact with the content of your website. It also benefits the elderly or people with a temporary disability - such as a broken arm or being without their glasses. This is why it is very important to have empathy, understand all the possible situations or scenarios in which a user can navigate the sites and try every day to generate products accessible to everyone.
Besides, having an accessible site is a symbol of good practices of a company or institution, since it creates a good perception of the brand. Benefits are generated in search engine optimization (SEO) and compliance with new legislation.
Which success criteria we apply?
At Matrushka we are determined that all our products achieve level A in general, and level AA in the success criteria for contrast and texts (1.4.3, 1.4.4 and 1.4.5 of WCAG 2.0).
This allows people with visual impairment to access our clients' content.
Where can I learn more about web accessibility?
An excellent website to start with the topic is w3.org. I am also sharing some great articles below that might interest you:
- Web Accessibility for Designers
- A guide to color accessibility in product design
- Seven Myths of Color Contrast Accessibility
- Designing for accessibility is not that hard
- 8 tools that make accessible design easier
I hope this article is useful to other designers and developers, or anyone who is starting to research web accessibility and who is interested in improving their empathy, which is the main engine to achieve any project.