Website accessibility refers to the practice of making websites usable by people with disabilities. This includes individuals with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments. The goal of website accessibility is to ensure that all users have equal access to the information and functionality provided by a website.
The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 billion individuals worldwide have a disability. Of this population, it is estimated that around 60% use the internet frequently within their households, equating to potentially 600 million individuals with disabilities who also use the internet.
There are several standards and guidelines that have been developed to help ensure website accessibility. The most widely recognized is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines provide a set of rules and recommendations for making web content more accessible to users with disabilities.
To make a website accessible, there are several steps that can be taken. One of the most important is to ensure that all images, videos, and other multimedia elements have appropriate alternative text (alt text) that describes the content of the element. This is important for users who are visually impaired and use screen readers to navigate the web.
In fact, most international legislations that set the legal standards for web accessibility in different countries either refer to WCAG directly or simply borrow its recommendations. These legislations include:
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Canada
EN 301 549, the EU standard for web accessibility