The wonderful world of digital accessibility

Inclusion seems more popular than ever, but it’s actually too crazy for words. Inclusion has always been important and it never will be. Yet the term inclusion goes much further than the image you may have of it. For example, have you ever considered how people with disabilities navigate the web?

Martijn Halekor, our own Front End web developer, is aware of inclusion within SkillsTown’s online learning platform. He likes to explain the importance of this based on the design process behind WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

Introduce…

“I am responsible for the visual and interactive design of the user interface on SkillsTown’s online learning platform. Think buttons, sliders and input fields. You can see my work as the link between the end user and the system at the back,” explains Martijn. “Within my field, WCAG is unfortunately a neglected child. A shame, because with relatively little effort you can serve many more people with your digital product.”

To make it understandable for the IT doctors among us, Martijn gives a striking example: think of a large train station somewhere in the country. That station offers solutions for blind, deaf and wheelchair users, for example. Essentially, this means that websites and applications must also take into account a number of possible limitations, regardless of nature.

The four principles for accessibility on your website

The WCAG guidelines can be summarized in four principles that must work together in a very comprehensive way to achieve a worthy result. We explain them below:

  • Your website must observable is for (colour) blind/visually impaired, deaf/hearing impaired and people with epilepsy. Think about the use of colors, alternative texts for visual media for reading software and limiting flashy animations.
  • ONE operative website means that a website must also be accessible via e.g. only the keyboard. Martijn says: “I really like working with the keyboard, but sometimes websites are not optimized for this. Pull out the mouse and try to operate everything on your computer with only the keyboard for a day. Then you quickly find out where frustrating it can be for someone who has no choice.”
  • The principle comprehensibility refers in particular to writing texts, correct marking of input fields and correct marking of the language on a website. “Imagine an English text being read by Louis van Gaal. Exactly, nobody knows what it’s about!”
  • That robustness of a website is a bit more technical, but the bottom line is that the site contains flawless software and strives for maximum compatibility with current and future browsers. Essential content and functionality must remain accessible regardless of device or operating method.

The biggest misconception

The biggest misconception about WCAG guidelines is that people think that it is only necessary for people with a disability, and that therefore it will not benefit more than fifteen percent of your target audience. “By doing so, you’re underestimating the importance of these design principles because adhering to these guidelines benefits every end user and makes your product more accessible to, you guessed it, everyone.”

We give you some examples

At SkillsTown, we consider WCAG guidelines in everything we do indoors the online learning platform. Martijn therefore gives you a number of examples:

  • “Sufficient contrast in color use is necessary for an inclusive website. The default color palette is carefully adjusted taking into account contrast requirements, so that the text is always easy to read. In addition, we offer a tool during the personalization of the platform with which you can check the contrast value of your own brand color and improve it if necessary.
  • We’ve also recently improved the navigation menus so you can easily navigate them using only the keyboard. It’s a must when you can’t use a mouse.
  • Finally, we have incorporated periodic consultation with our copywriters into our design process to ensure that all buttons, sliders and menus are clearly labeled and not confusing.”

What about your website?

Do you want to be digitally accessible to everyone? Then you may need more information and support. Go to your online learning platform and follow the ‘Digital Accessibility’ e-learning. Not yet using the online learning platform? Then discover the possibilities of following our courses!

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