11 Web Accessibility Myths Debunked
Web accessibility isn’t something that’s new. Back in 1997, the Web Accessibility Initiative was formed. Two years later, the World Wide Web Consortium created the first edition of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). We’re currently on the third iteration of WCAG (WCAG 2.1), but web accessibility is still new to some. If you’re just starting to think about accessibility as an organisation, that’s great. You may have some preconceptions about it. That’s why we wanted to run through the top 11 myths about accessibility…and bust them! 1. “Accessible sites are ugly or boring” ‘Accessible sites are ugly and boring’ is far too common of a statement to be false, right? Wrong! In the early days of the Internet, this might’ve been true. Plain text websites were considered the only acceptable solution to those using screen readers and other assistive technology. And plain text sites, are of course, considered simple, ugly and boring by today’s standards. Times have moved on since, so has technology, and so have the guidelines. Accessible websites don’t have to be restricted to plain text. In fact, some of the most visually pleasing websites are accessible. It’s completely possible to have a beautiful, media-rich, interactive and accessible website. 2. “Web accessibility is a developer’s job” In the most part, the functionality and technical aspects of a website are down to the developer. Surely that means all accessibility changes fall into the remit of a developer too? In many ways, yes, but to say that accessibility is the sole role of a developer is false. Every single person who contributes and manages a website has to be responsible for accessibility. Whether this is a content writer, or a project manager, or even the CEO; everyone needs to be on-board to deliver accessibility effectively. To say it’s the sole job of a developer is false. Accessibility needs to be embraced by everyone in an organisation. 3. “Accessibility costs lots of money” This one is difficult to answer. If you’re building a website from scratch, it shouldn’t be more expensive to implement accessibility. But if you’re implementing accessibility on a pre-existing site, it may take more people, and as a result, cost more in terms of ‘man hours.’ Thinking about accessibility at the very beginning of a project will mean that less work in the future. Ultimately, it will cost the exact same as if you were creating an inaccessible website. It’s worth looking at laws and public perception. Are you likely to get fined or lose business for not implementing accessibility? The answer is yes, in most cases. So, offering accessible services is often better than losing money to litigation. 4. “Accessibility is time-consuming” Considering accessibility at the very beginning of a project takes no extra time. Nor will it take more time to develop. The trick to this, is implementing accessibility from the very beginning of the process. If you go in at the end, you may find yourself at a time disadvantage. Losing hours to fix accessibility problems that could’ve been ironed out in the wireframe or design stage. Introduce accessibility as part of your ‘Business as Usual’ tasks so that anything produced going forward can be improved! You can also identify key areas for improvement with an audit. Take positive steps towards changing a little bit at a time. The key is to create a plan to implement changes. 5. “I don’t need to be accessible – disabled users don’t use my website…” If you think like that, then that’s probably why no one with disabilities uses your site. It’s comparable with saying that a top floor restaurant…
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