Intro into a topic of web accessibility


The topic of web accessibility is constantly drawing our attention. As a front-end development service providers, we were always curious about how to make the interface as simple and straightforward as possible. In this article, we have collected documents and briefly describe what accessibility is, why and to whom it is needed, as well as share my approach to developing and testing available interfaces. The material will be useful to both Front-end developers and designers, as well as anyone who uses the Internet.


Assistive technologies

Today it is possible to effectively interact with electronic devices without a screen or a mouse, the world turned. After all, the variety of software and IoT devices other than the standard monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Here are just a few:

Screen readers are the most common technology that is associated with web accessibility. Converts text from screen to synthesized audio stream or set of sounds of different frequencies. In addition, screensavers allow you to quickly list items (titles, links, buttons, sections, etc.) and navigate between them, which greatly simplifies life. The most popular screensavers are VoiceOver (macOS, iOS), NVDA (Windows), Google TalkBack (Android).

Braille display -  a device that converts visual information into a set of six-point characters that can be distinguished at the touch of a finger. It requires special software to display the information.

Speech recognition and voice control. You don't surprise anyone now, everyone knows "Ok, Google" and "Hey, Siri". However, for people with impaired musculoskeletal, the voice recognition device will always remain relevant, especially now that the recognition quality is extremely high. Apple's report shows how important speech recognition is.

Switchers are one or more large buttons in the same housing that the user can assign to different actions, such as scrolling or selecting an item. It is also used by people with musculoskeletal disorders.

Sip-and-puff (SNP), inhale-exhale device - a device in the form of a tube that responds and transmits information in response to inhalation and exhalation. The force of the airflow and its direction changes the direction of the cursor on the screen.

Few statistics about web accessibility:

- 2.2 billion people have vision problems;

- 15% of the population live with various types of disabilities or disabilities;

- In particular, 12.6% of the population in the United States suffer from disability or disability.

Accessibility is usually associated with blindness, but the list of damages that need our attention as developers is much greater:

- Hearing impairment - reduced or complete hearing loss makes a person rely on vision.

- Vision Impairment - Reducing the quality of vision requires the ability to customize the interface for yourself by magnifying the text and adding contrast, and blindness requires sound through screensavers.

- Damage to the musculoskeletal system dictates the requirements for the size of the elements on the screen and their ease of use.

- Cognitive impairments (difficulty concentrating and perceiving information) require quality and simple content available in a user-friendly interface that requires no unnecessary action.

- However, accessibility is not just about hardship or pain. We all need quality and user-friendly interfaces every day when:

- read the news or respond to messages with a teacup/grocery package/baby/cat in one hand;

- we hide in the shade in the summer to read information from the screen of the smartphone, otherwise, nothing is visible;

- surf the web from the sofa on Smart TV;

- last night, before bedtime, we check the social media tape, and a bright white light blinds us in the darkness of the bedroom.


So accessibility is about user comfort. This is a set of techniques and practices that allow all users of your interface to receive content and achieve the desired result in the optimum time.


Why invest in web accessibility

Web accessibility requires knowledge and time. And not always are companies and customers willing to spend money on what they think will not work. However, here are a few reasons to help convince you that web accessibility is needed in case of important negotiations.

Audience expansion. According to the previous section, 15% of the population needs accessible interfaces. Of course, not all 15% actively use the Internet, but for sure many of them will definitely want to use digital products and may be upset if the payment form is unavailable.

The best UX for everyone. As we have already seen, accessibility is for everyone. Your users are sure to enjoy clear and clear instructions for forms, keyboard navigation, and dark browsing.

Legal acts. Around 40 countries have recommended or required compliance with accessibility standards. Sometimes, laws only apply to government portals or projects with hundreds of thousands of users or organizations that have offline offices (shops or offices). However, the trend is increasing year by year, and one should not forget the possible liability for discrimination against users. It was at the court's decision that Netflix began to add subtitles to video content.


Salary. Knowledge and experience have not harmed anyone yet. In the situation of web accessibility, they will only do better. At glassdoor.com, at the request of Front-end Developer, we get 53,231 results and the highest salary - $ 287,800. However, at the request of Accessibility, there are 74,448 vacancies and the highest compensation is $ 416,800. Of course, Accessibility is about doctors and architects, but understanding the principles of web accessibility and the experience of using it skillfully gives you interview points.

Organic traffic. In recent years, search engines, including Google, have been more likely to rely on user behavior when they were issued. The more time users spend on a page and the more pages they browse, the higher the page progresses in results. And user behavior depends on both the content and the convenience of the interfaces.