Everyone holds the right to access the internet, but this access is not always undeterred. A 2021 report from WebAIM found that 97.4% of the top one million websites in the world contained accessibility issues on their home pages.

Web accessibility is the practice of rendering digital content conveniently usable for disabled people. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer developers, designers, content writers, and various other creators the consensus standard for accessibility. It allows them to offer a more inclusive experience for all the 61 million adults who live in the USA with some form of disability, along with the millions of others around the globe.  For instance, an education website should not just focus on creating an education center logo, content, and layout design only, but also whether all those components are accessible by all kinds of users.

But why is accessibility critical in website design? Let’s delve into the intricacies.

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the process of making a website, technology, or tool inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. An accessible website is easy for all people to understand, perceive, interact, and navigate, allowing people to contribute to the Web. Accessibility in website design encompasses inclusivity for all kinds of disabilities, including visual, auditory, speech, cognitive, physical, and neurological.

However, web accessibility is also advantageous to people without disabilities, such as in the following instances:

  • People with hindered internet connection, or those working on an expensive or limited bandwidth
  • People using smart watches, smart TVs, mobile phones, or other devices that come with a smaller screen or work on different input modes.
  • People with “temporary disabilities,” such as lost glasses or a broken arm
  • People with “situational disabilities,” such as those sitting in an environment where they are unable to listen to audio or in bright sunlight
  • Older people with abilities altered due to aging

Why is Website Accessibility Important?

As important as web design is for a website, web accessibility holds critical significance as well. It is not only a legal obligation and ethical practice but is also a lucrative business practice. Overlooking the disabled community translates to ignoring millions of potential customers holding a purchasing power worth billions of dollars. The purchasing power of assistive technology Internet users in the United States alone amounts to more than $350 billion. These statistics do not include the bulk of people with disabilities across Europe, the rest of the Americas, Asia, and elsewhere. Putting this huge demographic in the background is unequivocally a grave mistake, both economic, ethical, and legal.

Web accessibility is safeguarded by various laws in many places around the globe. In the United States, the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 stipulates that all “electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.” Additionally, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act requires advanced communication products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Several European states also have their national laws that stipulate protection for web accessibility, including the European Union’s protection of digital accessibility through the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Following are a few reasons why accessibility in websites is important and should matter to us, according to the charter:

Freedom of Information and Expression

Every individual holds the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom of exercising their opinions and receiving and imparting ideas and information regardless of frontiers and hindrances by public authorities.


All kinds of discrimination are prohibited, including those based on any ground such as race, ethnic or social origin, sex, color, language, religion, genetic features, beliefs, political or other opinions, property, age, sexual orientation, membership as a national minority, and birth.

Integration of People with Disabilities

The charter respects, acknowledges, and recognizes the rights of people with disabilities to derive advantages from measures tailored to ensure their independence, participation in community life, and social and occupational integration.

What Does Website Accessibility Do?

Accessibility in websites performs various functions, all of which reinforce its importance. Some of these are as follows:

Expansion of Audience

Contrary to popular belief, website accessibility is not just a means to facilitate people with visual or audio-related disabilities. Various kinds of disabilities affect more than one billion people around the globe, but such people do access the internet in various ways. Some do it through a keyboard and mouse, whereas others use the keyboard alone as their prime navigation tool. Users with visual disabilities may derive help from assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers and screen readers, whereas those with mobility impairments may use trackballs, head pointers, or even eye-tracking systems to navigate the Web.

Thus, an accessible website not only facilitates the disabled but also works to expand your audience reach by offering an enhanced experience for all. Such websites typically focus on four fundamental categories, which dictate the content to be operable, perceivable, robust, and understandable. A website can increase its reach exponentially by employing accessibility-improving ventures without the hassle of making technology-particular accommodations for all methods used to access your content.

Improved Experience For All

The best practices of web design run parallel to web accessibility principles. Every kind of user benefits from a piece of content that is easy to understand, operate, and perceive. Here are a few examples of web accessibility considerations that benefit everyone: 

Accommodation of people with hearing disabilities through accurate closed captions

People with hearing disabilities can be conveniently accommodated through the use of accurate closed captions. People without disabilities are bound to find such captions more interactive and engaging as well. 

Text legibility through suitable color contrast ratios

Text legibility can be greatly augmented for people with vision disabilities by ensuring appropriate color contrast ratios. Color contrast can be defined as the contrast difference between a website’s background and the foregrounding elements, such as the text. In fact, appropriate color contrast can help reduce eye strain for almost all users.

Accommodation through clear, concise text

Writing in simple, clear, and concise text can not only accommodate individuals with learning disabilities but can also augment user experience for all kinds of users. Getting your message across efficiently is always desirable when it comes to quality website content.

Accommodation through user authentication procedures

Elemental user authentication processes can accommodate individuals with memory or mobility impairments. Streamlining the login process through such a process can enhance customer retention and improve conversions for all users.

Reduced Maintenance Cost For Accessible Websites

Accessible websites tend to work on cleaner codes, which translates to enhanced search engine positioning, reduced chances of errors, and expedited load times. Thus, the overall cost of adding new features, redesigning your website, or even refreshing with quality web content may be less than maintenance and development otherwise.

Although making your website accessible requires an investment, the money you invest is least likely to go in vain. Such investments usually have lucrative returns, with the benefits becoming apparent almost immediately such as scaling up organic traffic, click through rates, conversion, to name a few. However, it is important to note that improving your website’s accessibility is not a one-time project but rather a continuous priority that ought to be shared amongst all of your team members.

Legal And Ethical Aspects of Website Accessibility

Most countries impose laws and regulations that safeguard accessibility. Although these laws do not determine the worth of accessibility, they surely prompt people to treat it as a priority in order to avoid legal repercussions. A few laws that necessitate digital accessibility include the following:

  1. Canada’s Human Rights Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  2. The United States Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  3. The European Union Web Accessibility Directive and European Accessibility Act (EAA)

Several states in the USA have their own accessibility requirements for websites, including the California Assembly Bill No. 434 (AB 434) and Colorado House Bill (HB) 21-1110.

Testing For Website Accessibility: How To Do It?

It is pivotal to evaluate your website for accessibility while it is in the developmental process to gauge its compliance. Prior testing makes identifying and resolving such issues comparatively easier. You can use the following testing tools to assist you in your website check:


WAVE is a renowned and easy-to-use developing tool that roots out problems and suggests solutions to combat them. It also offers accessibility information related to indicators and error icons on a webpage.


WebAim can help you check the background colors and text on your website to ensure compliance with the WCAG guidelines.

Axe DevTools

Axe DevTools is an automated testing tool that roots out and solves accessibility problems when developing a website. Even if you aren’t an expert, you can use Intelligent Guided Testing (IGT) to complete your manual test quickly.


This is a free screen reader tool for Windows with an efficient focus highlight feature that assists developers in tracking focus objects on their screens. It also allows developers to employ the speech viewer and view the screen reader output as text.

Website Accessibility Checklist

You can gauge your website’s compliance with WCAG guidelines and improve accessibility through the following factors:

Alt Text

Visually impaired users can benefit from Alt text by deriving information from written pieces of information instead of visual images, illustrations, or charts in the website content. It helps offer the same information access to all users, notwithstanding their ability to see images.

Audio and Video Alternatives

People with visual impairments can also benefit from multimedia alternatives, including audio file descriptions and text transcripts. They allow blind or deaf users unhindered access to information on your website. A pertinent example would be of providing an audio description or captions for a video tutorial on your web page.

Color Contrast

Users with vision impairments can benefit from suitable color contrasts on your website, especially with high-contrast colors. For instance, a large text color with a light background or vice versa can help enhance visibility. However, since all users have varying requirements and limitations, it is best to offer an option to tailor the color contrast according to one’s preference. The minimum contrast required for normal-sized text should at least be 4:5:1.

Accessible Form

Offering labels next to the fields in your website where users need to fill in information can help impaired users easily understand the web form. For instance, if you require a user to type in their email address and phone number on a form, it is best to label the fields to help users with AT understand what is required of them.


It is important to ensure that all components of your website can be easily accessed through the AT or a keyboard since not all users can handle a mouse. Accessible navigation can help improve user experience by targeting site structures, such as site maps and search boxes. These structures should function on intuitive and logical navigation to help users find what they are looking for easily.


Descriptive page titles can help disabled users understand the different web pages and differentiate between them. Markup headings can also boost navigation through the keyboard or AT. You can further improve your website accessibility by offering options to enlarge letters or alter the font and spacing for better comprehension when reading.

Flashing, Moving, Blinking Content

Flashing, moving, or abrupt blinking content in videos, advertisements, or carousels can cause problems for users with cognitive impairments. Content containing more than three rapid blinks in a second can trigger seizures in people with photosensitive disorders. It is, thus, best to steer clear of such practices.

Summing Up

Website accessibility is not merely an ethical practice but rather holds economic and legal repercussions. An accessible website imparts equal information for disabled and non-disabled users alike, boosting inclusivity. It can also augment website traffic since web accessibility proves beneficial for all kinds of users, irrespective of their impairments.