What is Web Accessibility?

Accessibility is the practice of making your websites usable by as many people as possible — we traditionally think of this as being about people with disabilities, but really it also covers other groups such as those using mobile devices, or those with slow network connections.

You could also think of accessibility as treating everyone the same, and giving them the same opportunities, no matter what their ability or circumstances. In the same way that it is not right to exclude someone from a physical building because they use a wheelchair, it is also not right to exclude someone from a website because of a visual impairment, or are using a mobile phone. We are all different, but we are all human, and therefore have the same (human) rights.

Accessibility is the right thing to do, but it is also part of the law in Ontario. Improving accessibility makes your site more usable by other user groups, such as mobile phone users, those on a low network speed, etc. In fact, everyone can benefit from many such improvements. it can open up some significant opportunities that otherwise wouldn't be available to use your services, buy your products, etc.

Accessibility and the best practices it entails can benefit everyone:

  • Semantic HTML (which improves accessibility) also improves SEO, making your site more findable/marketable.
  • Caring about accessibility demonstrates good ethics/morals, which reflects the values of the University of Guelph community.
  • Video captions, also known as same-language subtitles, benefit everyone who watches videos. Captioning a video improves comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video. Captions are particularly beneficial for persons watching videos in their non-native language, for children and adults learning to read, not only for persons who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.