We currently live in an ultra-connected world—no need to move anymore. With a computer or smartphone equipped with an Internet connection, we can purchase training courses or meet with an advisor. It has become more convenient and faster. However, access to digital tools is only sometimes fair for everyone.
In India, nearly 20% of the population is considered disabled, according to INSEE. Some of these people experience significant difficulties when browsing the web, which prevents them from accessing various online resources, services, and opportunities. Fortunately, there are technical solutions to improve digital accessibility and meet the specific needs of people with disabilities.
What Is Digital Accessibility?
Digital accessibility consists of making digital tools accessible to everyone, regardless of disability or situation. Digital agency encompasses websites, intranets, various online platforms, mobile applications, software packages, and digital urban devices. With an accessible website, people with disabilities can easily access content, understand it, navigate, and interact. But digital accessibility is not limited to people with disabilities. It also affects seniors, whose abilities tend to decrease with age.
Why Optimize The Accessibility Of Your Website?
You should know that since 2005, digital accessibility has been an actual legal obligation in India and Europe. Public bodies and private companies with an annual turnover of more than 250 million euros must ensure their digital services are accessible to everyone. The inability to follow this regulation could bring about punishments. However, even if digital accessibility obligations do not apply to all companies, this approach can offer considerable advantages:
- Expand your website’s audience: As mentioned at the beginning, around 20% of the French population lives with a disability. By making your site accessible, you can reach more new leads.
- Improve your brand image: Guaranteeing the accessibility of your website demonstrates the commitment and quality of your company. If the user experience is positive, users will be more likely to come back and talk about it around them.
- Optimizing the user experience: Making your website accessible means improving interfaces and content for people with disabilities. However, these optimizations also benefit other users by providing additional comfort: simplified navigation, more readable texts, etc.
What Are The Disabilities Affected By Digital Accessibility?
The goal of digital accessibility is to offer the same quality of service to everyone, regardless of their situation. To do this, it is essential to know the different types of disabilities that your users can endure.
- Visual impairment: Visually impaired or blind individuals cannot see a website. They often rely on screen readers to convert content to voice text or Braille. For people with visual impairments, adding features to increase color contrast or change text font size can make navigation easier.
- Hearing impairment: People who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot hear audio content, such as video interviews, podcasts, and other multimedia content. Replacing audible content with visible content is necessary by adding subtitles, written transcription, or sign language interpreters.
- Motor impairment: People with motor impairments may struggle to navigate with a mouse or keyboard. Accessibility, therefore, consists in simplifying interactions with the site. For example, you can implement assistive technologies such as eye cursors or voice control devices.
- Cognitive handicap: Cognitive disorders are multiple: comprehension difficulty, memory disorder, concentration problem, or learning difficulty. People with HIV may have trouble navigating the site, finding the information they seek, or filling out a form. The solutions provide them with clear, simple, and well-structured content for easy understanding.
What Is The Standard For Digital Accessibility?
Several applicable standards aim to improve the accessibility of a website.
- WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines): These are the international reference to guide creating inclusive sites. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), its recommendations concern all types of web content. WCAGs are structured around four fundamental principles: be noticeable, be usable, be understandable, and be robust.
- The RGAA (General Repository for Improving Accessibility) is the standard used in France. It was developed based on WCAG international reference standards. The RGAA is updated regularly to adapt to developments on the web.
- European standard (EN) 301 549 V 2.1.2: Defined by the European Union in the context of directive 2016/2102, it concerns the compliance of information and communication technologies. It also refers to international WCAG standards.
How To Improve The Accessibility Of Your Website?
To optimize the accessibility of your website, you must respect the four fundamental principles of WCAG 2.1:
The information published on the website must be presented in such a way as to be perceptible by all the senses, including sight, hearing, and touch. This involves using alt text for images, an audio system for listening to text content, transcription, and subtitles for videos, and easy-to-distinguish color schemes.
Users must be able to navigate and interact with content fluidly and intuitively. This includes transparent, consistent navigation, easy-to-use interactive controls, and an adaptable device layout.
Content should be presented understandably, avoiding excessive complexity and using clear and straightforward language. Internet users must quickly understand the content and the actions to be taken.
Content should be robust and compatible with various assistive technologies and browsers. This ensures that the site remains accessible as new technologies emerge.
Some Examples Of Digital Accessibility
To create a truly accessible website, here are some essential tips to ensure your site is user-friendly for everyone, including those with disabilities:
- Provide text descriptions for all images so that visually impaired or blind users can understand their content;
- Opt for high-contrast color combinations to make it easier for people with vision problems to read;
- Use appropriate HTML tags (titles, lists, paragraphs, etc.) to organize the content logically, thus facilitating web navigation;
- Design intuitive navigation with well-structured menus and understandable links so that all users can access content without confusion;
- Add captions for videos and transcripts for audio content, so people who are deaf or hard of hearing can follow the content;
- Create forms with self-explanatory labels and clear instructions, making it easier for all users to submit information;
- Test your site with screen readers, eye cursors, and other assistive devices to ensure that it remains usable for everyone;
- Allow users to change the font size to suit their preferences and needs;
- Conduct regular testing with users with disabilities to identify accessibility issues and make continuous improvements.
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