Accessibility has been quite a hot topic recently and for a good reason. As we've mentioned in previous blogs, accessibility is a very important part of the web development process undertaken by UI and UX designers, web developers, copywriters, and content creators to ensure that those websites are easily available for everyone.
For many reasons, including the risk of having serious legal consequences, it is important for every company to conform to the WCAG standards. Doing so is not an overnight process and requires a lot of steps. Accessibility strategy is the plan that a company has that outlines and describes the steps to be undertaken in order to make the site accessible.
Types of Accessibility Strategies
There are a few different accessibility strategies, which can be broken down into two categories: reactive and proactive.
A reactive strategy is one that is a response to specific issues as they are reported, while a proactive strategy takes a more holistic view of accessibility and tries to address any potential problems before they become an issue. Neither approach is inherently better than the other; it depends on the company's needs and resources.
How to Plan for Great Accessibility
No matter which type of strategy you choose, there are some key steps that need to be taken in order to make your website accessible:
Audit Your Website
This involves looking at how your website currently functions and identifying any areas where improvement is possible.
Develop a plan
Once you've completed your audit, it's time to come up with a plan of action. Your plan should include any work that needs to be done and the time you think each task will take (if possible).
This part can be quite tricky since accessibility issues aren't always obvious at first glance; however, there are some things like broken links or missing alt tags which are more easily detectable than others.
Now's when all those hard hours spent on planning will pay off! You'll implement any fixes outlined in your strategy document while keeping track of how long each one takes so future improvements can be planned accordingly.
Once everything is set up, keep an eye out for additional problems.
The Most Common Accessibility Issues we See
Shopify's templates are well prepared for digital accessibility. However, when agencies take on a redesign or some development work and there is a need for customisation, it may lead to some accessibility issues.
Shopify provides VPATs for different aspects of the platform, such as the checkout process and the default “Debut” theme.
Here are some most common accessibility issues that we see most often that you may want to check and start your plan from:
- Low text colour contrast: People with visual impairments like colour blindness require a high contrast ratio for text in order to not miss or have issues finding any information.
- Lack of keyboard support: People with motor disabilities like lost or damaged limbs often have to use a keyboard without a mouse in order to move around the web.
- Missing alt tags: People with heavy visual impairments like blindness may have to use screen readers in order to navigate the web.
- Empty form labels: People with cognitive disabilities (as well as screen reader users) like short term memory issues might have issues when coming back to a filled text field and simply not remembering what the field is referring to.
- Unclear language: People with cognitive issues like dyslexia may have issues reading a copy that is overly complicated.
This signup form text would not pass the contrast guidelines. <https://blog.prototypr.io/common-accessibility-problems-good-and-bad-examples-in-modern-websites-a13efb7256ad>
Accessibility Strategies: Final Thoughts
Digital accessibility is extremely important. Companies need to ensure their websites are accessible to as many disabled people as possible.
The 2 most commonly distinguished accessibility strategies are proactive and reactive. It isn't all that relevant which one you choose, however, every time you attempt to make your website more accessible, follow these key steps:
- Audit your website
- Develop a plan
- Implement changes
- Monitor Progress
When planning for your accessibility, search for different common mistakes, but also it's worth studying the official WCAG guidelines and rules implemented by your government. Some of the most common mistakes we see are:
- Low text colour contrast
- Lack of keyboard support
- Missing alt tags
- Empty form labels
- Unclear language
Blend Commerce is a Customer Experience (CX) Shopify Agency for Shopify businesses. This means we focus obsessively on improving your CX pre, during and post purchase. By doing this, we help you increase the most important eCommerce metrics for long-term growth. And we're here to help you take your business to the next level.