What is Web Accessibility?

A little confused girl surrounded by browser logos, a man in a wheelchair and a text claiming that 98.1% of the web is not accessible.

If even for a second you assumed the internet, and thus the web, was available to anyone with an internet connection, you were very much mistaken. So let’s get real and get rid of a few widespread false assumptions around using the web.

Web accessibility is not about being able to reach a website or not. It has nothing to do with your internet provider’s terrible connection, your poodle chewing on the cable, the janitor pulling the wire while hoovering or you — for some God awful reason — placing the wifi router smack on top of your microwave.

Only a small percentage, namely 1.9% of the current web is accessible, so if you think your website is accessible, it’s more than likely not.

It is a legal, moral and ethical obligation to provide an accessible web experience to all users, and guess what? There are no exceptions. None. Zilch. Nada. Not really. That would be called discrimination, and that’s illegal too.

Disabled people aren’t few and far between. It’s roughly 15% of the world’s population, so chances are, you’re either one of them or know someone who is.

Web accessibility caters to ALL disability types, not just the blind or those in wheelchairs. Fun fact — though less so for them — the most common disability type, is cognitive. You didn’t see that coming, did ya?

Web accessibility caters not just for permanent but temporary, situational and age related disabilities as well. Think broken arms, mouse running out of battery, watching a video in a loud environment without headphones or your eyesight and hearing weakening over time.

Man in an electric wheelchair being guided by his mobile phone on street with trees.

Web accessibility enables a website or an app to be used with just a keyboard, in various contrast modes or with other disability specific support tools one might use. Think Stephen Hawking or Nick Vujicic for example.

Web accessibility is not a new requirement. The capability has been built into HTML and browsers since the beginning for nearly 30 years. But everyone from designers, developers to product managers and companies ignored it, and now we have to retroactively fix 98.1% of the web. If that sounds like a 30 year backlog, that’s probably because that’s exactly what it is!

Web accessibility is not easy. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking, it is. Hopefully my articles help you understand all the intricate details behind it all, how to design, develop and test accessible websites and apps, so subscribe to my YouTube channel for more, and hit the bell button for more short and sweet accessibility videos like the one below. Alternatively, follow me here on Medium, where all my accessibility videos get posted in text format.

As always, stay creative and accessible. Attila, your accessibility ally.

Attila VagoSr. Software Engineer building amazing ed-tech software. Cool nerd since forever, writer of codes and blogs. Web accessibility advocate, Lego fan, vinyl record collector. Loves craft beer!

Writer of code, blogs and things that live on the web. Pragmatic doer, Lego fan, Mac user, cool nerd. JavaScript and Flutter enthusiast. HMH.engineering editor.

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