Monday, 11 February 2013

Accessibility - Plugging Wheelchairs to your Website

In an endeavor to create a site unique, might make it “inaccessible” to a large audience. Alas! Most of the websites in Pakistan are not designed in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), leaving out a large bracket that is impenetrable for web access.

Just imagine, your boss is staring at your screen and you have to guess warped CAPTCHAS to proceed. It can be a horrible story for me as I am so pitiable in guessing CAPTCHAS. I usually get closer to the screen to understand these coiled and curved letters or take help from my fellows. I wonder how they can serve to ensure that a “human being” is generating the response (BTW, I am cent percent sure that I belong to a family of species who are Human SapiensJ). At last, one day I was given an assignment to do some research and send a comprehensive report on “Web Accessibility”. Phew!!!

“Thank God, I am not an alien!” I whispered after reviewing the statistics. In US, 20% of the citizens (equates to about 54 million) are facing trouble, in one way or other, to understand the website content. It is a common phenomenon and it can be found associated with the people around you, even in yourself (just consider my example). Remember, only four kinds of disabilities are associated with web access; visual, hearing, motor and cognitive. Unfortunately, I did not find much authentic statistics for Pakistan but one thing is for sure, if your website is not playing nice with the above mentioned impairments, you might get losing a big chunk of users.

A big question mark may follow what are the tricks to use then. However, the good news is that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are available on W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) website to keep in consideration while developing and designing a website. WCAG 2.0 is based on 4 basic principles known as POUR; Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust. Widening the arms surrounds more people around you, which will surely help you in not only reducing bounce rate to your website but also making it more accessible for search engines too. All this may sound like a long way to cover up, but in reality it is not. Keeping in view some basic and simple ways can list you among websites with accessibility.

Check contrasts between your background and foreground, add a symbol and not relying solely on colors, stay responsive to screen-reader software, use captioned or transcribed videos, support simple keyboard access, avoid too many complex options on a single page with no hierarchy, avoid movements that can be distracting, availability of changing the text size, speech enabled website are few of the most simple techniques to grab more market.

Are you ready to afford losing a fraction of your web traffic? Avoid the complexities and enable your website accessible to your every potential customer. You must be intended now to melt the whole ball of wax. There is no single rationale behind not opting for Web Accessibility.

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