What is Web Accessibility, and How is it Inclusive?

The number 101 surrounded by drawings of people

Read time: 4 minutes

Note: This post was updated and revamped in January 2023.

At Unity Web Agency, “web accessibility” is in our DNA. 

From website development and design to marketing and social media, we’re focused on incorporating web accessibility into every project and process.

At its core, web accessibility is about inclusion. Anyone should use your website, regardless of ability or identity, and the purpose of web accessibility is to eliminate barriers to access and use.

Web accessibility is a commitment to inclusion

There are over 307 million internet users in the U.S., and 61 million U.S. adults live with a disability. That’s 26% of our adult population. 

Of adults with disabilities in the U.S., more than 10% have a hearing or vision disability. Accessible websites ensure these adults aren’t excluded by offering adaptations that meet their individual needs and supporting the use of assistive technologies.

Infographic provided by the CDC that shows 26% of adults in the U.S. have a disability
Infographic provided by CDC.

Adaptive strategies and assistive technologies

Web accessibility starts with understanding the barriers people with disabilities face when using the internet.

Consider what a visitor to your website needs to do in order to access the products or services you provide. Do they have to read text? Watch a video? Fill out a form? Click buttons to download resources or make a purchase? Scroll the page? View additional pages? 

For your website to be accessible (and therefore inclusive), everyone who visits should have an option to perform these actions in a way that meets their needs.

Here are some examples:

  • Auditory, tactile, and visual alerts, which display notifications in different ways, such as screen flashing, dialogue prompts, vibration, and sound.
  • Captions, which match the dialogue in a video or audio clip verbatim.
  • Customized fonts and colors, which allow a user to change the font type, size, color, and spacing to make it easier to read.
  • Eye tracking systems, which control the mouse and perform mouse-clicks by monitoring eye movement and blinking.
  • Multiple navigation mechanisms, which provide more than one way to discover pages on a website.
  • Screen readers, which process content on a webpage and convert it to audio or Braille.
  • Screen magnification, which enlarges or reduces the size of every element of the webpage.
  • Sign language, which translates audio into American Sign Language.
  • Speech input, which converts spoken words into text.
  • Text-to-speech, which automatically converts the text on a webpage into audio.
  • Transcripts, which contain a verbatim record of any audible speech, including any sound descriptions.

(The above information was provided by W3C. Read more about disabilities and technology in this blog post.)

Standards and Guidelines

The Web Accessibility Initiative (a product of the World Wide Web Consortium) publishes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a benchmark for web accessibility. These are the standards we use to evaluate the accessibility of every WordPress website we develop.

Additional guidelines to consider include:

  • Authority Tool Accessibility Guide (ATAG): the ATAG provides guidelines for writers to create authoring tools that are more accessible to authors with disabilities, helping them to create, share, and promote more accessible content. This guide is primarily used for individuals that create authoring tools such as Google Docs, WordPress, and Facebook.
  • User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG): the UAAG is primarily used for individuals who create products that render web content. This includes products such as web browsers (Google Chrome), extensions, media players, and readers. Along with making these products more accessible, the guide will also help those products properly communicate with other pieces of technology. 

If you need help ensuring your website is both accessible and inclusive, we'd love to chat! Click the button below to schedule a consultation.