The Importance of digital accessibility – learn about good practices
The internet has emerged as a facilitator for the majority of the population when we talk about access to information and interaction, but for those people who live with some type of disability, there are still obstacles to complete accessibility, and they are not few.
According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) , we can define digital accessibility as being “the possibility and condition of reach, perception, understanding and interaction for the use, participation and contribution, on equal opportunities, with security and autonomy, on sites and services available on the web, by any individual, regardless of their motor, visual, auditory, intellectual, cultural or social capacity, at any time, in any location and in any physical or computational environment and from any device of access”.
In short, for a website to be considered digitally accessible, it needs to be easy to understand and navigate for ALL users, without the need for help from third parties.
And it’s possible! There are already available a set of resources and measures that allow the inclusion of all, just put them into practice.
Who are the beneficiaries?
Digital accessibility thinks of the user as a whole, that is, it benefits both people with disabilities and people without disabilities. Below are examples of features and benefits:
- People who are blind or have low vision: they use screen readers to access the contents, for that it is necessary that the sites are adapted and built in an assertive way so that the program understands everything. Contents made available in audio are also facilitators.
- People with hearing impairment: to access content, transcripts, subtitles and translations in Libras must be available.
- Persons with physical disabilities: need sites that can be easily navigated through all menus and their sub-items, services, forms and information available, so that they can be accessed via the keyboard.
- People with intellectual disabilities: ideally, the content should be made available in different formats, such as text, audio and video, so that they can choose what suits them best and thus improve their studies.
When we talk about “good practices”, we are not talking about a guide that dictates rules and obligations. You will see that many of the tips we will present here are complementary to each other or can be used alone.
The practices cited here are summarized from the booklet released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and encompass the areas of content creation, page development and design.
On page schedule
Attention programmers, during the development of the page, there are also some practices that can greatly facilitate accessibility for everyone. In first place are the simplest, cleanest codes with adequate semantics. That said, even with the adjusted codes, some points deserve attention, such as:
Description of the images: aimed at people with some type and level of visual impairment, the description of all non-text content is essential. The image description can be informed in the text itself or through a specific attribute of the img element in the HTML.
Heading Hierarchy: When someone is using a screen reader to navigate, there are a number of keyboard shortcuts that can make this process easier. Therefore, we must correctly define the H1, H2, H3 headers, etc.
Navigation links and shortcuts: every link must be designed for keyboard navigation to facilitate accessibility for people with visual and/or motor impairments. For this, keyboard navigation shortcuts are used, such as TAB, ALT or SHIFT + ALT, for example.
Form structure: as it directly involves user interaction, programming must consider access to information not only for screen readers, but also for people using graphical browsers.
Some essential precautions include font size, use of contrasting colors, avoiding centralized alignment in text blocks and not using justified texts, avoiding italicized text, ensuring that the spacing between elements is consistent and not leaving any doubts between the relationship of the content.
Furthermore, links must be easily identifiable and not be confused with blocks of text. Also remembering that every informative element, such as an icon, needs a textual element that describes it.
In the content
When creating content, the first thing to think about is format diversity. Although text is one of the most important ways of transmitting information over the internet, audio and video content should always be considered, as they are a way of facilitating the audience that, due to different types of disabilities, may have some difficulty with texts.
That said, it is important to remember that all video content must be subtitled (or have a Libras window) and contain audio description. Podcast content, on the other hand, needs to be transcribed into text. That is, every content format is complementary and must go hand in hand.
All non-text content must contain the description of the image and during this description it is important to avoid redundancies and adjectives that represent a value judgment, preferably to be simple and direct.
In social networks, there are already resources that facilitate accessibility and specific pages to answer questions and announce news. On Instagram, for example, a special caption is available for describing images for the blind. The feature is called alt text and can be found under the “advanced settings” option.