Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD) takes places every year on the 3rd Thursday in May, and it’s the perfect day to raise awareness about website accessibility.
The mission of GAAD is this:
To get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.
GAAD is probably one of the most exciting weeks in the world of accessibility. For the past week, I’ve been immersed in the fascinating world of accessibility webinars, podcasts and courses, where there is so much to learn and be inspired by.
But back in the “mainstream” world, many small business owners still don’t know that digital accessibility is a thing.
Many still don’t know that people with disabilities can use websites and the internet, or how they do it.
It’s one of the reasons more than 98% of websites are still not accessible to people with disabilities.
That’s why we wanted to celebrate GAAD by sticking to the basics and raising awareness about:
- WHAT is website accessibility?
- WHO does it impact?
- HOW does it impact them?
Because accessibility is really about the people.
So here are 8 questions posed by 8 people (fictional, of course) with different disabilities.
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, then website accessibility is something you’ll want to address as soon as possible on your business website.
“I’m blind. Does your website work with my screen reader?”
Ever wondered how someone who is blind uses a website?
Many use screen readers to read the content of a webpage to them.
But if your website isn’t accessible, it becomes next to impossible for them to make sense of your website’s navigation, text, images and other elements like forms, buttons and links.
“I have low vision. Does your website text have a high contrast?”
Colour contrast is one of the easiest accessibility issues to fix, yet it’s one of the most common accessibility issues on websites.
Most designers choose website colours based mainly on how the colours look together. But light text on a light background is hard to read… for anyone. For someone with low vision, it’s virtually impossible.
Want to make your site a bit more friendly to people with disabilities? Bump up that contrast!
“I’m Deaf. Does your website have video captions I can read?”
Most of us have used captions or subtitles at some time or other while watching Netflix or a Youtube video.
But while they’re a nice-to-have for non-disabled people, they’re a must-have for anyone who is deaf.
If you have videos on your website, have they been made accessible with captions?
“I’m hard of hearing. Does your website have audio transcripts?”
A transcript is a written version of audio or video content.
Not only are they necessary to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, they’re also useful in situations where audio must be turned down or when you just prefer to read.
The bonus is that search engines love transcripts!
So if you’re making podcasts or vlogs, transcripts are essential.
“I’m an amputee. Does your website work if I’m using only a keyboard?”
There are many situations that make using a mouse difficult or impossible.
What if you broke your arm? Or have arthritis or fibromyalgia causing severe pain? Or have partial or full paralysis due to a stroke or injury?
People with these disabilities often cannot use a mouse. But some websites only work well with a mouse.
Is your website a mouse-only site? Or is it a keyboard-only site? If you’re an inclusive business, it should be the latter.
“I’m dyslexic. Does your website give me enough time to complete a purchase?”
People with learning disabilities may take longer than others to process information and complete tasks on a website.
Making sure that website features like sliding banners and checkout carts allow enough time to complete actions, is just one of the many ways that an accessible website considers the needs of everyone.
“I have ADHD. Is your website simple and easy to use?”
How many of us get annoyed with websites that have video ads sliding in from the right and autoplaying while we’re trying to read content about a totally different topic?
Or sites with ten thousand links in the navigation? Or content written in PhD language with paragraphs a mile long?
There is beauty in simplicity…
Simplicity in layout, design and language is one step to make your website accessible to everyone, especially to those with cognitive disabilities
“I’m mute. Does your website let me buy without speaking to someone?”
Every time you think of placing a call to action button on your website that says “schedule a call” or “call us for more info”, think about people who have speech disabilities.
This could include those who are mute or deaf, those who stutter or have paralysis that affects their ability to talk, and so many others.
Add an alternative contact method for people like this. It’s the right thing to do.
#GAAD is one day every year, but it’s also every day of the year for people with disabilities
To celebrate #GAAD, we wanted to get small business owners thinking about the accessibility of their websites.
This year, accessibility is an even bigger issue because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that people all over the world have been forced to shelter in place and use the web to work, study, live and stay safe.
1 in 4 Americans have a disability.
1 billion people worldwide have a disability.
There are millions more who don’t identify as having a disability, but benefit from accessible websites. And that includes the millions of people that make up our aging populations.
Tomorrow is #GAAD (Global Accessibility Awareness Day).
But for people with disabilities GAAD is every day.
It should be for business owners too, because people with disabilities are your family, friends, neighbours and customers.
And thinking about them shouldn’t be something we do only one day a year.
So don’t only think about making your website accessible today. Think about it every day.
More importantly, do something about it.
It’s the right thing to do.