Most of us are familiar with accessibility features in physical spaces; a public restroom that can accommodate people who use wheelchairs, or a crosswalk signal that produces both visual cues and sounds. The same principle can be applied to digital content to ensure all users have equal access to information and services.
Between 15% - 25% of the population lives with a disability. Many people who have disabilities use assistive technologies, which are tools that help them navigate the physical world and the digital world.
But the assistive technologies that allow people to use and interact with websites only work if we create content to be accessible. This means we need to carefully choose our language, color scheme, layout, and structure.
Digital accessibility is a commitment to creating communications that can be used and understood by all people, of all ages and abilities.
What makes digital content accessible?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG, pronounced “wuh-cag”) are international standards that have identified four accessibility principles. These are sometimes known by the acronym, "POUR":
- Perceivable: People can perceive of content through at least one of their senses. Example: People who are Blind can use web content by having a screen reader read it to them.
- Operable: People can use interactive elements, no matter how they are interacting with the content. Example: People who can't use their hands should be able to click buttons using dictation software.
- Understandable: People should be able to understand what the content means and how to use it. It should be predictable and consistent. Example: People using any device or assistive technology should be able to identify links and understand what happens when they click them.
- Robust: When websites are designed according the best practices, people should be able to use them on any device or with any type of assistive technology.