The Internet, Social media and Websites are all about effective and meaningful interpersonal communication. Communication amongst community members is maximized when designers follow the established web accessibility standards and guidelines set forth by the World Wide Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web.
The internet isn’t just accessed by web browsers on desktop computers anymore. We now live an age of wireless connectivity and in fact, browser based web surfing has been on a steady decline since 2005 because of apps, mobile devices, mobile phones, screen readers and adaptive technologies for the disabled.
It’s critical from the start we build standards-compliant websites which should guarantee that your audience can view your website regardless of any disabilities they may have or browsing technology they use. Simply put, the more gadgets and people that are able to read your information, the more will find it and get the message you are trying to say.
When we think about accessibility we often think about people with disabilities, specifically ramps and wheelchair access to public places. Although people with disabilities do play a huge role in web accessibility it is not the only issue.
The three main factors that hinder online users are:
- Mobile Technology
Web accessibility (as defined by W3C) means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with and that they can contribute to the web.
What Are Disabilities?
Some of the different types of disabilities are auditory, cognitive, developmental, neurological, physical, sensory, speech, visual and don’t forget that web accessibility provides many benefits for people with age-related impairments, even though they may not be regarded as having a disability.
How Do People With Disabilities Surf The Web?
Persons with disabilities use adaptive technologies that compensate for their particular disability so that they can enjoy the Internet just as much as you and I do, but if your website is not standards compliant the technology they use to surf the web is not going to be able to deliver your message properly if at all.
The measure of a good web designer in today’s marketplace is that they go out of their way to inform and educate their clients about accessibility issues. Those designers who elect not to inform their clients may either be ignorant of the importance and legal ramifications of not being compliant, don’t lack empathy or perhaps both.
Being unaware is more to do with your choice in web designers as it is their responsibility to create a good product, protect your interests and make you aware of how things should be done, but at the end of the day it is your choice in who you trust. Not caring can be viewed as discrimination as access to information and communication is a civil right no matter how anyone accesses the information.
By not having a website with valid code you are effectively cutting millions of people out of the equation by not allowing them to participate, so when you are interviewing web design companies and getting quotes ask about accessibility and request a sample of some of their accessible work.
- 4.4 million Canadians live with a disability
- 1 out of every 7 people in Canada have a disability
- Canada will have 9.8 million seniors by 2036
- 15 – 20% of every country’s population are disabled
- 650 million people worldwide are disabled
Where you live plays a big part in how you access the internet. We have all become quite accustom to high speed and broadband internet connections but what about those that live in rural areas, do you remember what dial up was like?
Some rural customers Internet Service Providers (ISP) only offer dial up services, so making sure that all web graphics and web programming are optimized and that the content is separate from the design is very important so that your dial up users can access your site and get the information they want in a timely manner or they will move on and get it somewhere else.
Canada is the second largest country in the world but about 90% of our population live within 200 km of the United States border so there are vast expanses of wilderness to our north.
- Canada has 28 million internet users, (84.3% of our population)
- only 53.6% (15 million) have a broadband or high-speed internet connection
- 6% of Canadians lack access to broadband services
- in rural areas the number increases to 22% who lack access to broadband services
Cellular phones and Smart phones have fast become the most frequent way people have been accessing the internet. Most people use their mobile devices for quick bursts of information, “where’s the closest restaurant?”, “what time is the dry cleaners open until?” and the mobile phone has fast become the ultimate communication device.
You may think we just use mobile technology to look up things quick and keep in touch with friends and family but did you know your mobile device can be used to make purchases, update your website, post information to your social networks which can then pull the information to your website?
We Don’t Go To Information Anymore, It Comes To Us
Instead of you going to the same websites you frequent daily looking for the latest news you now subscribe to them. As you have probably noticed most modern websites now have free subscription services or Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds which alerts us to updates, replies to comments or conversations online. We get these alerts sent to our email which we access through our phones.
If you haven’t already noticed you soon will but a lot of services are now confirming account information and security checks via mobile phone and not email.
There is a mobile revolution going on right now with how we access information and if you keep ignoring web compliancy you might as well not even have a website as nobody will ever be able to see or hear what you are trying to say.
- 22 million cell-phone subscribers (over 66 percent of the Canadian population) Dec 2009
- expected to reach 30 million within five years
- 75 percent of all Canadian households have a mobile phone
- 50 percent of phone connections in Canada are wireless
- Canadians send 135.4 million text messages per day
Accessibility is the Law
So besides the moral issues, where people live and what they use to access the internet if you value your products, services or unique ideas before you go and hire a professional web designer, first check to see if their work is compliant.
You can check anyone’s website by using the W3C’s free Markup Validation Service, all you have to do is simply enter a website address into the box and click on the check button.
You Can Have It All
While you are at it why not go ahead and validate digitaldeceptions.ca, not only is it a great looking website, it’s very easy to update, search engine friendly, our services are aggressively positioned within the Durham Region and it is all done with valid code.
If you have any questions or are interested in a quote give us a call at (289) 275-8470 or get in touch to set up an appointment. It doesn’t cost anything and there is no obligation on your part at all.