Accessibility – easy access on the web for all users
The Internet is a central medium for all sorts of everyday concerns. This makes it all the more important that digital services are accessible to all people, regardless of their skills and abilities.
Accessibility ensures this. Like usability, its aim is to make content on the Internet as easily accessible as possible. There are specific guidelines and precise technical specifications for accessible web content:
- There are the international guidelines of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). These provide a global standard for web content accessibility.
- Germany has the Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung (BITV). It adopts the standards of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and aims to design websites so that people with disabilities can use them.
- The Swiss Behindertengleichstellungsverordnung requires that federal Internet services must be barrier-free.
Why accessibility is so important
But accessibility is not only important for public authorities to ensure the legal equality of people with disabilities. It is also crucial for all other supplieres and service providers of digital services on the web. In Switzerland alone, 1.8 million people (18% of the population) live with disabilities – in Germany there were over 10 million people (13% of the population) in 2013. These people benefit significantly from accessible web content, and thus also those companies that rely on the accessibility of their information. It is a question of a company's attitude and image and a clear criterion for success.
In terms of digital accessibility on the web, the following restrictions must be taken into account:
- Visually impaired and blind people: Blind and visually impaired users can only use a website if all content (text, images, navigation elements, menu items, input fields, etc.) has a speaking text equivalent that can be read aloud by screen readers.
- Hearing impaired and deaf people: They need subtitles for videos and text versions for audio documents.
- People with motor disabilities: The websites must be designed in such a way that a user can operate them without a mouse, for example.
- People with cognitive disabilities, people under stress or people with reading difficulties: clear navigation, limited to a few operating steps, as well as the simplest possible comprehensible language with simple vocabulary and comprehensible terms help here. However, this is one of the principles of usability that is appreciated by all users.
How we make your digital solutions accessible
- Concept/Design: We attach great importance to accessibility right from the conception stage: We structure and prioritise content and information clearly and according to their relevance. In the design process, we take various aspects into account right from the start, such as the contrast range or the content output.
- Accessible frontend code: We pay great attention to frontend development. Our developers know the WCAG standards and pay attention to accessible code right from the start. Among other things, we test whether the interaction with keyboard and screen readers works reliably.
We work closely with the Foundation «Access for all», which carries out certifications for the Swiss Confederation. If possible we choose an agile approach with regular testing with blind and visually impaired users. Experience shows that this results in higher quality with less effort.
We also support «Access for all» with technical know-how as part of the Accessibility Developer Guide and are active in the area of accessibility in teaching and at conferences.
- Editors and copywriters training: We train editors and content managers to keep an eye on the guidelines and principles of accessibility on the web when using the CMS: For example, is everyone thinking of adding a meaningful ALT text to the images? For example, how can obstacles for screen readers be avoided?
In the texter training we guide the writers through the most important guidelines and requirements of accessibility on the web and offer helpful checklists: How can they design their texts in such a way that they are as accessible as possible?
- Accessible e-mail marketing: We combine various standards in the field of marketing e-mailings. We have improved and extended these over months of work. Among other things, we have integrated the requirements of WCAG, TEN and recommendations in cooperation with the «Schweizerischen Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband». We are convinced that we play a pioneering role worldwide for accessible marketing e-mailings.
Mobile into the future. With the website relaunch in responsive design, the SBB meets the demands of modern travelers. Unic was responsible for conception, design and frontend development.
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Thomas Jaggi, Expert Frontend Engineer at Unic talks about the Accessibility Developer Guide (ADG), his engagement for a barrier-free digital world and the significance of accessibility for Unic.