We usually start our blogs with a personal anecdote, but web accessibility is a more deep-seated topic that deserves a different type of introduction.
We want to introduce you to Molly Burke. You may recognize her from Dove commercials, Aerie campaigns, or perhaps you’ve seen one of her YouTube videos hit the trending page. She’s a Canadian social media star with over a million subscribers and a full catalog of lifestyle, food, and fashion videos.
When she isn’t recording videos and walking red carpets, she’s commenting back to fans on Instagram and spending time with her dog, Gallop. In many ways, Molly is an average millennial woman despite her internet fame.
What makes her web presence especially interesting is the fact that Molly is blind. She lost her vision due to a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, but that hasn’t stopped her from making it big in the influencer world.
Naturally, we couldn’t talk about web accessibility without mentioning Molly Burke. In many ways, she’s the face of the movement and represents a growing number of tech users with vision, hearing, and motor limitations.
We know what you’re thinking. “How can a blind person be a social media star?” The answer is simple. Molly’s blindness doesn’t limit her ability to use the internet.
There are billions of internet users around the world, and we’re all looking for the same things. We want to stay up to date on the latest news, talk to our loved ones, and watch videos. We want to use websites, streaming services, and apps too. Some of us happen to have impairments or disabilities that can make this task more complicated, like Molly.
This is where web accessibility takes root. It’s the idea that everyone can read, understand, navigate, and interact with your content, regardless of ability. When given the right tools, people with impairments can successfully use the internet and are no longer limited to the information they can access.
In a broad sense, accessibility is about putting information into everyone’s reach. It ensures that all of your potential website users can easily access your content. Although this might sound like an intimidating task, we can assure you, you know more about web accessibility than you realize.
You don’t need digital marketing experience to spot a poorly designed website. The site is challenging to navigate, and the content is hard to find. It looks unorganized, or it just won’t load no matter how long you wait. Your intuition knows that it’s a mess without having to take a critical look at it, and as a user, you know it’s not functional.
Good web design puts the user first. Websites should connect customers with the information, tools, and services they need. If you’re easily not connected to what you’re looking for, the site isn’t useful. The goals of accessible web design are the same. It just so happens that elements of good website design are also accessible design elements and inclusive for everyone.
Accessible User Experience:
- Logo at the top left and linked to the homepage
- Buttons are large enough for touchscreen devices
- Left-aligned body copy
- Responsive design for mobile viewing
How Web Accessibility Helps Everyone:
- Have a slow internet connection
- Use old web browsers or operating systems
- Have a device with a small screen
- Can’t listen to video audio at work
In our opinion, web accessibility is a total win-win. Everyone can use your website, you don’t leave anyone out, and you can make contact with a customer base you wouldn’t reach otherwise. Winning all around. So, why aren’t all websites already accessible?
“As developers, it’s easy to assume that all users can see and use a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen, and can interact with your page content the same way you do. This can lead to an experience that works well for some people but creates issues that range from simple annoyances to show-stoppers for others.”
Most of us will never know what it’s like to have an impairment, especially one that limits our ability to use technology. As a result, people with disabilities are often forgotten about during the web design process. This is a classic case of out of sight, out of mind. It’s an unfortunate truth of the digital world. Thankfully, SEO and web accessibility have become synonymous because they rely on the same types of data
Not only is web accessibility inclusive but becoming accessible is necessary for a solid SEO strategy. Websites with good SEO practices can also be used by people with vision, hearing, and physical limitations. We all depend on HTML, the language of the internet. It’s the code that makes a website look the way it does and function the way it should.
Essentially, this is the only thing search engines can see. In other words, Google doesn’t see the photos on your site. It can’t see your graphics or hear your videos. All it can interpret is the written content and how it’s structured.
“Accessible content and search engine optimized content are both machine readable. Search engines and assistive technologies (such as screen readers) are quite similar. In many ways, search engines are deaf, blind, use only a keyboard, and have limited technical abilities. Both rely on content structure, semantics, and functionality to either present content to users or determine the relevance of content.” – Jared Smith, WebAIM, a non-profit organization dedicated to web accessibility
Although it isn’t a direct ranking factor, Google uses standard accessibility techniques to rank websites. The more accessible your content is, the easier Google can find you. All of the accessibility features are detailed in W3’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, but we’ll give you the gist in plain English.
To become accessible, designers and web developers must follow web accessibility guidelines. Pesola Media Group is working towards this initiative. Of course, we always follow best practices for design and SEO, but we want to take this a step further to ensure a wide range of people can use our sites.
If you’re curious about your website, we recommend Google Lighthouse for Google Chrome. “Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public, or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more.”
It’s a quick way to check your accessibility and get valuable feedback on your site’s overall performance. With this feedback, you can take the right steps to become accessible and further develop your SEO.
To make the web more accessible for everyone, we must all do our part. That way, sites can work better for more people in more situations. We’d love to help you with this process. Learn more about our web design and SEO services.
Learn More about Web Development
Our team builds websites that clearly communicate your brand’s message and convert website visitors into clients. It’s not just about looks. It’s about an optimized website performance. We make sure every web experience is engaging and designed for conversions.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the practice of increasing organic search engine rankings. As your website moves up the page in search results, you will receive more visitors, and ideally more qualified users. The goal is to match the right people with the right pages on your website.