Busting 5 Myths about Digital Accessibility

26 April 2021

The digital landscape is rife with myths and commonly held misbeliefs. Many of these surround the topic of accessibility. Digital accessibility is, put simply, the process of making digital products accessible to everyone. It provides all users with the same content and messages, regardless of any impairments or disabilities by which they may be affected.

Despite its obvious importance however, many website owners neglect digital accessibility. Often this is because they have misconceptions about it which leads them to believe that it is not a worthwhile investment. We’re here to debunk five of the most prevalent digital accessibility myths so you can sift the fact from fiction. Let’s get bustin’.

1. “Only a small percentage of my users will benefit from an accessible website”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 4 million Australians have a disability, or roughly 18% of the total population. On a global scale, WHO reports around 15% of the world’s population are disabled in some capacity. Clearly these statistics are significant. While these disabilities differ in severity, many affected people can still use the internet – as long as it is made accessible. But it is not just these people you need to take into account. There are also plenty of others who could benefit from accessible features who don’t identify as disabled.

These include:

  1. Older users: might need captioning on videos with large texts to aid in reading.
  2. Users whose native/primary language is not English: may need more time to read captions translated in their own language.
  3. Users with cognitive limitations: may need bulleted content to help them follow along easily.
  4. Users with limited or low vision: might need to zoom into content to make it readable for them.
  5. Users with situational disabilities: might need colour contrast so that the glare on the screen won’t interfere with their reading.
  6. Users with temporary disabilities: might need to use a keyboard to access everything since they cannot do it with a mouse.

2. “It takes too much time and effort to make your website accessible”

This one isn’t necessarily true – as long as a smart and proactive approach is taken. Many website developers test accessibility at the tail-end of the development cycle. This last minute attitude is entirely inefficient, requiring a complete code overhaul and revision. This is why developers should build the accessibility foundations of the website in the beginning to save time and resources in the long run.  

3. “Digital accessibility is a one-time-only task handed to the developers”

Contrary to popular belief, the web developers, designers, and UI and UX specialists should not be the only ones involved in digital accessibility. There are also the clients and shareholders who hold the money and dictate the project timeline, and they too must be convinced of the advantages. You also must consider the marketing and sales teams who need to understand that accessible websites ultimately generate better traffic and revenue. The digital strategists and content creators also have a stake. And last but certainly not least are the users, who are the final jurors to how accessible a website truly is.

4. “Accessible websites look plain, boring, and ugly”

There is a reason why a good website building team is stacked not only with the best encoders and programmers, but also with skilled and creative designers and content creators. Designing a website that is both accessible and beautiful is absolutely achievable – the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are plenty of powerful websites out there that prove this one to be false immediately, like the ones here.

5. “Automated testing tools can make your website accessible right away”

Although there is always a place for automation, its scope is limited. This should be kept in mind when it comes to automated testing tools for checking accessibility on a site. Though they may save time, it is highly unlikely that they are 100% accurate and reliable. This is why human assessment should always be your primary testing strategy. We recommend a multi-pronged approach, in which both manual and automated review are used. In this way, people can check what the automated tool might have missed, such as supplying alt text to images which most bots won’t be able to do themselves.

Make your website an inclusive and welcoming place that everybody can visit and enjoy. Digital accessibility caters to more people than you think, so don’t put it on the back burner any longer. The road to accessibility will require the input of many key stakeholders, so make sure to take a holistic approach towards it. There is no doubt that an accessible website is superior in today’s digital and social climate, and will be rewarding for your business in more ways than one.

Ready to get accessible? Let the experts take care of that for you. At Elephant in the Boardroom, our talented team of designers and developers know how to create websites that are both visually stunning as well as accessible for all. Contact us today on (03) 7018 7620 or visit our website www.elephantintheboardroom.com.au for your free digital health check.