Since the launch of our new corporate website, we are more focused than ever on designing websites with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Accessible websites provide better services for people with compromised physical or sensory abilities. The website designer should remember that users with learning disabilities and cognitive limitations are to be assisted with the help of technologies and design standards. A website’s design should always adhere to the standards suggested by W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). These standards definitely help users with disabilities process such as navigation, interaction and content understanding processes. Optimal user experience is achieved not only by the content provided, but also by the efforts taken by the designer to create a standards complaint design.
There are so many products available in the market to assist users with disabilities. If so, why we are bothered about standards? If the products are good enough to solve the problem or deliver the needs then what’s role of design standards. People perceive that the assistive technology products alone can help the users in improving accessibility. The fact is, the technologies can perform well if and only of your design is good.
Despite all the technologies advancements, creating an assistive website always lies on the hands of the designer as no good technology can compliment a poor design. Building the right system is the key here as it paves way for better navigation and features. The onus is not on using the best of the products or available technologies, it is always on the design.
For example, there are a good number of products that help the users with reading disabilities. They provide text-to-speech functionality to read a website’s contents aloud. But these products alone is good for nothing if your design ignores the basic aspects such as not using alt attributes for images, poor focus control, lack of keyboard shortcuts creating form fields without label elements etc. These accessibility barriers need to be broken only with the help of a good website design. If your markups are not good, if your design does not stick to the WAI guidelines, then the product/technology doesn't matter. Remember, the technologies can’t make a website accessible and only the code and design that makes it happen.