Accessibility for Humans

Making our tech available for all

THE BIG BYTE

Have you ever been frustrated by a website that’s impossible to navigate? Ever wondered how people with disabilities use the internet? Do you think making technology accessible is a requirement that everyone should honor or is it just a luxury?

In celebration of Accessibility Day, we’re diving into why this topic is not just important but essential! Let’s explore how we can make the digital world more resourceful and usable for everyone.

TLDR: Accessibility in technology is essential for creating inclusive digital spaces. It involves making websites, apps, and digital tools usable for everyone, including those with disabilities. Planning for accessibility from the start and using tools like WAVE and axe can help. By prioritizing accessibility, we ensure equal access to information and opportunities for all users.

What is Accessibility?

When you hear the word "accessibility," you might think of wheelchair ramps or braille on signs. But in our rapidly evolving digital world, accessibility has a much broader and deeper meaning. It's all about making websites, apps, and other digital tools usable by as many people as possible. Imagine you’re at a concert, but you’re stuck behind a tall person and can’t see the stage. Accessibility in technology is like someone offering you a step stool so you can enjoy the show just like everyone else. It’s about leveling the playing field and ensuring that no one is left out.

Why Accessibility Matters

Let’s think about some real-life examples. Have you ever tried to use a website that wasn’t mobile-friendly? It’s frustrating, right? Now imagine that frustration multiplied for someone who relies on assistive technologies like screen readers. Accessibility is not just a "nice-to-have" feature; it’s a "must-have" for creating an all-available digital environment. When we make our digital spaces accessible, we’re ensuring that everyone has equal access to the information, services, and opportunities available in our sites and apps.

Planning for Accessibility

Before you dive into building a website or app for your nonprofit, faith-based organization, or church, it’s crucial to plan for accessibility. Think of it this way: adding accessibility features later can be like trying to put sprinkles on a melted ice cream cone—it’s messy and not as effective. That’s why planning ahead is so important. Tools like the WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool) and the axe Accessibility Tool can help you spot issues before they become major problems. These tools act like a spell-checker for accessibility, helping you catch errors and make necessary adjustments.

HTML Semantic Elements

Creating accessible web pages is like cooking a meal. You need the right ingredients, and in this case, those ingredients are HTML semantic elements. HTML semantic elements are specific tags in a web page that clearly describe their meaning both to the browser and the developer. Unlike generic tags like <div> or <span>, semantic elements such as <header>, <footer>, <article>, and <nav> provide a clearer understanding of the structure and content of a web page.

Think of your website as a school backpack. In the same way you have pockets for pencils, books, and snacks, a website has special places for titles, articles, and menus. These special labels, like <header> for the title or <nav> for the menu, help computers and people know what each part is for. It’s like having a backpack with pockets labeled 'Pencils,' 'Books,' and 'Snacks,' so you know exactly where to find what you need.

These elements serve as landmarks that assistive technologies, like screen readers, can use to help users navigate a website. Using semantic elements is like building a house with labeled rooms; it's easier for everyone to find their way around.

ARIA Applications

An ARIA application refers to a web application that uses Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) standards to enhance accessibility. Developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), ARIA provides a set of attributes that you can add to HTML elements to make them more accessible to people with disabilities. These attributes help screen readers and other assistive technologies understand the roles, states, and properties of various elements on a web page.

For example, ARIA can indicate that a button is 'pressed' or that a dropdown menu is 'expanded.' In essence, an ARIA app is a web application built with a focus on ensuring that users with disabilities can interact with it as seamlessly as those without. It’s like adding signs and signals in a building to help everyone, regardless of their abilities, understand how to move around and use the facilities effectively.

Testing with Real People

And don’t forget the most important thing: showing your website and app to real live people. It’s crucial to test everything with a diverse user group, including people with disabilities. Pay attention to design details like color contrast and font size. It’s like making sure the puzzle pieces of your user experience fit well for everyone, not just a select few.

Accessibility in Video Conferencing

In today’s remote work environment, video conferencing tools have become a staple. Features like closed captioning are game-changers. They’re like subtitles for your calls, making it easier for everyone to follow along. Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer several accessibility features that enable those with disabilities to schedule, attend, and participate in meetings and webinars. These features include closed captioning, keyboard shortcuts, virtual backgrounds, screen reader support, high contrast mode, and more. For more details, you can visit the Zoom Accessibility Features page online.

Conclusion

Accessibility is not just a checkbox to tick off; it’s a responsibility we all share in the tech community. By making our digital world more accessible, we’re opening doors for everyone to participate fully. Whether you’re a developer, a designer, or just someone who uses technology, remember that your actions can make a world of difference.

Thanks for joining me in celebrating Accessibility Day. I encourage you to prioritize accessibility in your digital projects.

MORE FOR YOU!
Download the Guide

Head up to the “Guides” menu at the page top and click on the “Accessibility for Humans” link. You’ll get access to a guide and article I’ve prepared.

And don’t worry - if you’re asked for your email, we won’t send you double messages in the future.

THE LATEST BITs…
Can the TikTok Ban impact your nonprofit or org? Well, you might actually be surprised.

Thoughts, suggestions, questions, or topics you want to hear more about?
Yes, I’d love to know - send them my way!

Join the conversation

or to participate.