Web accessibility compliance is the practice of designing and developing websites and web-based content so that people with disabilities can use them. This includes people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, physically impaired or have cognitive disabilities.
There are a number of international standards of web accessibility, such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, ADA, Section 508, AODA, and more. And in order to achieve these standards, accessibility testing is the key, and this can be achieved with a web accessibility audit.
Significance of Inclusive Education
Inclusive education means that education is equally available for everyone, regardless of their abilities, in a general classroom. This means that students with disabilities can now be educated alongside their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible.
Inclusive education offers a lot of benefits to students with disabilities; it can help them develop social skills, learn from their peers, and participate in a variety of activities. It also allows them to feel more included and accepted.
Here are some examples of how web accessibility compliance and inclusive education can be implemented in practice:
- Adding Alternative text for images, providing transcripts for videos, and making keyboard navigation accessible on your website.
- A school can also implement inclusive education by providing accommodations for students with disabilities, like providing them with extra time on tests as they will be using assistive technology to do it.
Web accessibility compliance and inclusive education are important ways to ensure everyone has equal access to information and opportunities.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
Many legal and ethical considerations focus on promoting web accessibility, like WCAG 2.1, ADA, Section 508, AODA, and others. Many countries have made it mandatory to comply with these guidelines.
These guidelines are made to ensure that everybody is offered the same information and access to digital content. This shows the ethical responsibility to provide equal educational opportunities for everyone.
Benefits of Web Accessibility in Education
Web accessibility in education is important and can be attained with the help of accessibility testing, as it allows us to find all the barriers to accessibility on the basis of which improvisations can be made.
There are many benefits when it comes to implementing accessibility in education.
Access for students with disabilities
When you make your educational material accessible, it gives a chance to people with disabilities to learn from it. Allowing you to touch an overlooked market and reach a wider audience.
Enhanced learning experience for all students
It also allows for enhancing learning experiences for students as students can utilize and learn using various methods, learning at their own pace while turning on and off captions of the video or adding transcripts of the video lectures.
Improved engagement and retention
When the education material is designed by keeping accessibility in mind, it allows the students to be able to engage more with the content and thus retain the information for longer time frames.
Common Barriers to Web Accessibility
Attaining web accessibility can only be achieved when you remove the barriers to the accessibility of your website. Some of the common barriers to website accessibility include the following:
- Lack of proper text alternatives for images and multimedia: Using proper alternative text for all digital media on your website ensures that your images are accessible to people with disabilities, as they can now access the image using assistive technology.
- Inaccessible navigation and page structure: If your website cannot be navigated using a keyboard and the structure of the website is not properly formatted, this also creates a barrier to accessibility. Making your website navigation through a keyboard can help people with disabilities access your website easily.
- Insufficient color contrast and readability: When the proper contrast and readability of the text are not present, it adds another barrier to accessibility. In order to make your website accessible, make sure to use proper contrast.
Guidelines for Web Accessibility Compliance
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are international standards of accessibility defining the ways web content can become more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG is maintained by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), a global community where members of the organization work together to develop these standards.
The four principles in the development of these standards include:
- Perceivable: Content should be presented to users in a way that they can perceive it with a wide range of sensory capabilities.
- Operable: Users should be able to operate the content using a variety of input and output devices.
- Understandable: Content should be written in simple language so that a wide range of users can understand it.
- Robust: Content should be adaptable to meet the needs of users with different abilities.
Each guideline has a set of success criteria depending on the level. There are three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. This level of conformance is achieved with the help of web accessibility audit and accessibility testing.
Importance of adhering to WCAG standards
There are several reasons why it is important to adhere to WCAG standards, some of which are mentioned below:
- To improve accessibility for people with disabilities as it ensures that digital content is accessible to people with disabilities. This is important as it promotes inclusion and equality.
- Some countries have made it a mandatory requirement to adhere to these standards. For instance, the US has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.
- Adhering to these standards results in enhancing user experience.
Implementing Web Accessibility on Educational Websites
Implementing web accessibility in educational websites is important, and in order to ensure the same, some of the things to include on your website are:
- Ensuring keyboard accessibility and focus management
- Providing proper headings and semantic structure
- Incorporating alt text for images and transcripts for multimedia
To ensure inclusive education for all, web accessibility compliance is important. Web accessibility allows every type of user to interact with your website and educational material. There are a lot of benefits that web accessibility offers and it is a mandatory requirement in a lot of countries. Making education accessible provides people with disabilities with the opportunity to learn the same way as non-disabled people.