We have to agree that the internet plays a fundamental role in our lives, doesn’t it? It connects people, services, and information on a global scale, something that was unimaginable just a few years ago. However, not everyone has the same ease of access to this vast source of knowledge and interaction.
This is where digital accessibility comes into play, aiming to eliminate barriers and make the web more inclusive for people with disabilities. With that in mind, you might wonder: is it possible to automate digital accessibility, and is it really worth it? Do not go anywhere, as we will answer these questions for you throughout this article!
Digital accessibility relates to creating websites, applications, and online content in a way that all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access and use them without difficulties. This includes people with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive disabilities, as well as the elderly and anyone who might face obstacles when using technology.
For example, having accessible audiovisual content with captions improves the experience for individuals with hearing impairments as well as for someone who wants to watch a video in a doctor’s waiting room without headphones. Can you see how digital accessibility can be useful for everyone?
In summary, digital accessibility is the elimination of barriers in the digital environment. Oh, and it is much easier to implement than you might imagine.
Did you know that there are various types of digital accessibility? They were defined by the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to establish global standards for accessibility in the online environment. Here they are:
Automation has become an increasingly essential part of web development. After all, it streamlines processes and optimizes our time, right? However, digital accessibility presents unique challenges. While some tasks can be automated, complete accessibility generally requires a combined approach of automation and manual intervention.
Therefore, automating digital accessibility involves using tools and techniques that automatically identify inaccessible elements on a website. These tools can detect issues such as missing image descriptions, inadequate contrast, and non-navigable elements. However, it is worth noting that they are not infallible and may overlook certain problems or generate false positives. Hence, it is also beneficial to establish a routine of frequent manual verification.
Ensuring digital accessibility requires considering several aspects. Here are some important practices:
Not all users can use a mouse to interact with content. So, ensure that all functionalities of the website, application, or platform can be navigated and used using only the keyboard. This is essential for people with certain types of motor disabilities.
Have you ever tried to read legal text or medical articles and could not understand anything? Avoiding complicated jargon and overly technical language is a great accessible practice, not only for people with intellectual disabilities but also for those unfamiliar with the topic you are discussing. Therefore, keep the text concise and straightforward so that all users can easily comprehend the content.
Many people with visual disabilities depend on screen readers to access image content. Therefore, provide alternative descriptions (the famous Alt Text) for all images, conveying important information present in them.
In addition to ensuring that the website itself is accessible, it is important to acknowledge and support external assistive technologies, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, and even automatic translators for Sign Languages. Ensure that your site works well with these technologies, alright?
Validating digital accessibility is essential to ensure that correct practices are being implemented. There are a few ways to do this, let’s understand:
A manual approach involves experts in accessibility reviewing the site, testing the content, and interacting with it using assistive technologies. This process might take a bit longer, but it offers an in-depth understanding of accessibility issues, which is crucial!
Several automated tools are available that can analyze your site for accessibility issues. They can identify problems like lack of contrast, markup issues, and other technical matters. However, it is important to remember that these tools do not replace manual validation; their role is to assist and optimize the process of validating your content’s digital accessibility.
Digital accessibility is a crucial commitment to making the web a truly inclusive platform! While automation can help identify many problems, human intervention is essential to address all the nuances of accessibility. In the end, automated digital accessibility is indeed worth it, but not as the sole resource.
In short, investing in digital accessibility not only fulfills ethical and legal obligations but also expands your audience and improves the user experience for all individuals. If you want to take action right now to make the web more accessible, check out the Hand Talk Plugin, an Artificial Intelligence tool that translates all the text content on your site into American Sign Language (ASL).