Accessibility in web design has never been more important. According to research conducted by the World Health Organization and the CDC, 16% of the world’s population, and 26% of the U.S. population, have a disability. Whether it’s cognitive, intellectual, sensory or physical, these can hugely impact people’s ability to interact with, and experience, websites to their fullest.
Disabled people are already at a disadvantage when it comes to job hunting. Scope – a charity dedicated to supporting disabled jobseekers – notes that disabled people are almost twice as likely to be unemployed, and face a multitude of barriers at every stage of employment. As one of the first stages in the candidate journey, ensuring that websites are accessible is a vital contribution that employers can make to help level the playing field for disabled candidates.
You might be surprised to know that websites, in their essence, are inherently accessible. It’s the add-ons – additional features, graphics, functionality and technology – that cause accessibility issues. But that doesn’t mean we need to make websites simpler – accessibility and innovation can exist in harmony – it just means we need to be smarter, and more considerate of the experience each and every person has on our sites.
I sat down with Dan Leach – a Development Manager and all-around industry pro – to understand how employers can ensure their websites are accessible to everyone.
“Accessibility is the first thing we think about when we build a site. It’s not an add on, or an afterthought, it’s the foundation.’’Dan Leach
Dan describes making websites accessible like a driving test – easy to pass, easier to fail. He says that the best way to ensure you’re embedding accessibility into every part of your site, is to use it as your starting point.
Instead of developing features, and then working out how to make them work for all types of audiences, he advocates for creating features with accessibility at their heart.
Dan believes that accessibility is for everyone. Though it most pressingly impacts people that require assistive technology, building accessible features into websites also makes them more effective for the wider population.
Captioning videos, for example, means they can be watched anywhere, at any time, so candidates can consume your content no matter where they are. Ultimately, accessibility impacts us all. And, in a world that’s moving more and more into the digital space, making websites accessible for everyone isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it’s an absolute must.