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Why should Your Website be Accessible to All Users?

Why should Your Website be Accessible to All Users?

Why should Your Website be Accessible to All Users?

If you are excited about working alongside a team of visionary designers on your brand new website, you may already know the look, style and features you wish to present. Yet one thing you should always keep in mind, are your users – all of them. Website accessibility has become a matter of great importance in South Africa since the Promulgation of Information Act was passed. This law states that “South Africa’s Constitution gives every person the right of access to information, held by a public or private body, that is required for the exercise or protection of any right.” The national disability prevalence rate in South Africa is 7.5%; and designing a website that is truly informative and user friendly for every single person is a challenging task, but one that you should always aim for.

The Most Prevalent Disabilities in South Africa

As is the case across the globe, some of the most common disabilities in South Africa include sight impairment, hearing impairment, and cognitive impairment (having difficulties remembering/concentrating/comprehending). Your website will therefore require different features to cater for each disability. The Web Accessibility Initiative’s WCAG 2.0 guidelines are seen as the standard bearer in this field. They make various recommendations, including:

  • Providing text alternatives for any non-text content, so it can be changed into any other forms of communication people require, including braille, simpler language or large print.

  • The use of captions in audio and video content, to enable the hearing impaired to access your message.

  • The use of sign language for audio and video content.

  • Providing a text description of all that is going on in audio visual material – including visual context, actions and expressions of actors, sounds (laughter, important sounds in the background, etc.).

  • Presenting content in a meaningful sequence.

  • Using a clear structure (for instance, headings should be in big, bold font, separated from paragraphs with a blank line; items in a list should have a bullet before them – indentation can also work; specific colours can be used to show that different items are related to each other, etc).

  • There should no images containing images that flash over three times per second, or saturated reds, since these can provoke an epileptic seizure.

 

Making your website accessible does not only ensure that you follow anti-discriminatory law; but also raises your level of corporate responsibility, consolidating your reputation as a caring company with initiative. An accessible website will also result in greater profitability, since you will be able to reach a wider audience. Above all, it feels good to know that your products, services, and any information you provide, will be available to anyone and everyone who needs them.

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