Digital accessibility means designing websites, software and applications so that people with physical disabilities can also use them. There is a uniform European standard for digital accessibility of websites and software. EN 301 549 is the European standard for digital accessibility. It specifies the requirements that people with disabilities must have access to information and communication technologies.
Reasons why digital accessibility is important for society include:
Inclusion: digital accessibility enables people with disabilities and limitations to participate in digital life and use their skills and talents.
Equality: Digital accessibility helps bridge the digital divide between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not. This helps to promote equality of opportunity and social justice.
Education: Digital accessibility is important to ensure that everyone has access to digital educational resources and can therefore receive an equal education.
Social participation: Digital accessibility promotes social participation and inclusion of people with disabilities and limitations by enabling them to access digital communication channels and services.
Economic benefits: Digital accessibility can help open up new markets and customers and thus achieve competitive advantages. It can also help increase productivity and efficiency by enabling the use of technology for all employees.
Legal obligations: Compliance with digital accessibility laws and regulations is not only ethical and moral, but can also have legal consequences if not met.
Reasons for an accessible website
Reason 1: Reach more customers:
An accessible website allows you to reach more people, and thus appeal to a wider audience. This is especially important in a society that is becoming more diverse and includes older people. By going broader, you can ensure that you can reach potential customers and successfully communicate with them - even in the future.
Reason 2: Higher satisfaction:
Satisfied customers are key to the success of your online presence. An important prerequisite for satisfied customers is a high usability of your website or online store. If your content is difficult to access or unstructured and your users struggle to navigate your website or online store, this can quickly lead to dissatisfaction. For this reason, you should make sure that you have a consistently high usability that is accessible to all users. Keep in mind that an accessible website benefits not only some, but all of your users, and thus contributes to the satisfaction of your entire clientele.
Reason 3: Greater reach:
If your website or online store is not accessible, this can lead to you not getting enough reach. One way to increase your reach is to pay attention to accessibility and accessibility. Search engines like Google reward accessible websites and online stores with a higher ranking. This is because the criteria Google applies to assess the usability of your site or store include accessibility and accessibility aspects. If you meet these criteria, you will not only improve your position in the search results, but also your visibility on the Internet. In this way, you can reach more users and thus increase your reach.
Reason 4: Being a role model for others:
The demand for accessibility on the Internet is getting louder and louder and is gaining more and more attention and importance in legal regulations. If you offer an accessible user experience on your website or in your online store, you can highlight this as a unique selling point and make it public to show how successful you are with it. At the same time, you also take on social responsibility with your accessible online presence. By creating an accessible online presence, you can reach both users with and without disabilities and thus appeal to a broader target group.
Reason 5: Contribution to digital participation:
Economic success and social commitment do not have to contradict each other. On the contrary, an accessible website offers both economic and social benefits. By creating an accessible website or online store, you reach not only people with disabilities, but also users without limitations. In this way, you contribute to the promotion of digital participation. At the same time, a larger target group opens up new opportunities for you to market your products or services and thus also be economically successful.
Digitization - don't forget digital accessibility
Digitization means converting paper into electronic documents. For cost reasons, image formats such as JPG are often used. Blind people use reading software called screen readers. However, this is often mainly due to the fact that images are not given an alternative description. I.e. there is an image, but without alt-text it does not help a blind person. Accessible digitization means scanning paper and converting it into word processing documents or accessible PDF documents. People with disabilities encounter barriers when using computers, iPads, tablets, and cell phones. Therefore, there are many assistive technologies that help people with disabilities use computers, iPads, tablets, and cell phones, such as screen magnifiers, contrasting color schemes, screen readers, and Braille devices. Many IT industry journals regularly publish technical articles on digital accessibility.
The website should be barrier-free? These features are important
Some features of accessible websites:
- easy-to-understand, labeled graphics/illustrations
- simple language and sentence structure
- no foreign words
- accessible form
- sufficient contrast in design
- code and website content optimized for screen readers
- images with alt text
- videos with subtitles
- good usability of the website on desktop and mobile devices
Test website accessibility with WAVE, EqualWeb Accessibility Checker, Lighthouse, Access Assistant
Such websites can be used to identify possible usage limitations, which makes it easier for users to evaluate the website content. The test is free and provides results within seconds. However, you should not rely solely on technical tool evaluations when checking your website. In addition to technical testing, manual testing is always necessary. For example, if an image has an alternate description, this does not necessarily mean that it is helpful to those concerned. If an image is described as "Image 1," the viewer still doesn't know what's on the graphic or image.