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Website accessibility is an essential consideration for any business hosting web content. Both internal (employee-facing) and external (customer-facing) sites must meet certain conditions so that anyone can access them with reasonable accommodation. Data provides a way to measure these terms and ensure that your website is not only accessible but inclusive.
This is because the data, both qualitative and quantitative, can highlight accessibility pain points as well as opportunities for improvement. Users form an opinion about the site in 0.05 seconds, deciding whether they bounce off or stay. There are many reasons around accessibility features like mobile-friendliness or navigability, which you can track with data.
To increase your site’s accessibility, you need to understand the importance of these content considerations.
The importance of website accessibility
As you begin to apply data to improve web accessibility, the first step is to understand the importance of accessibility features. There is plenty of information available that details how important open and inclusive platforms are for business success. But more than just numbers, accessibility from an ethical point of view is essential.
Imagine living with a visual impairment if you haven’t already. Trying to use a low contrast site, lack of screen reader support, and cluttered navigation is a nightmare in these circumstances. You will definitely find other sites that are better optimized to meet your needs.
An estimated 12 million adults over the age of 40 live in the U.S. with some form of visual impairment. There are a lot of users who could potentially be banned from using your platform, and they only consider visual impairments.
Meanwhile, 61 million US adults live with disabilities. Accessibility features can help many of these individuals navigate digital platforms with greater ease. The other 15% -20% of the population are neurodivers, meaning that their brains have different ways of processing specific information and stimuli. Accessibility means that this demographic may experience overcoming any barriers to web utility.
Data shows that many of us live in conditions that may require certain facilities. But accessibility is for everyone. Because accessible practices are best practices, incorporating them into your website is more of an opportunity than a burden. After all, data helps you track your success (or lack thereof) when it comes to accessibility.
How data provides accessibility information
You can use the data to provide accessibility information throughout your website. Need to understand the tools and metrics to use it. Both free and paid software exist to help you diagnose and fix problems. Meanwhile, aligning Web Design Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with accessibility features presents opportunities for improvement.
For example, IBM offers an open-source web accessibility checker tool capable of scanning an entire website and automatically inserting the resulting data into a spreadsheet. From there, website managers can evaluate site successes and failures to increase usability. The nature of this data can be both qualitative and quantitative, indicating the type of problems that users may encounter as well as the frequency of these problems.
Qualitative accessibility metrics focus on the quality of the data being measured. These are the data that show the effectiveness of your approach. Researchers have determined that some of the most effective metrics for tracking accessibility data in terms of quality include:
To measure this data it is necessary to evaluate the various accessibility testing modules against each other, prepare research in terms of specific user conditions (such as visual impairments) and align the metrics accordingly.
Quantitative metrics, on the other hand, are data points that make sense through numbers. You can benchmark accessibility through these data using the following metrics:
- Number of pictures without optional text
- Number of criteria violations
- Number of Possible Accessibility Failure Points
- Intensity of accessibility barriers
- Takes time to act
All of these data points create a bigger picture of website accessibility, indicating potential pain points for your users. With this information, you can begin to understand where improvements can be made with efficient strategies for data implementation.
How to use data to improve website accessibility
With an understanding of how data can report accessibility, it’s time to apply that data for accessibility improvements. This includes framing your tracked data with respect to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provides the latest standards for ensuring web accessibility.
Measuring this accessibility metric, the UK’s National Health Service found that only 53% of its pages had a high rating for accessibility. The organization then modified its web platform to bring that number down to 98%. As a result, the number of daily users increased from 15,000 to 26,000.
You can take equally measurable steps to improve accessibility using the following tips:
1. Assign KPIs to the Web Content Accessibility Guide (WCAG).
WCAG 2.1 focuses on five accessibility principles. These are receptivity, efficiency, comprehension, strength and relevance. Your KPIs must be associated with these features for accessibility. For example, measure consistency by the number of breaches of criteria caused by site testing. These and similar metrics will help you identify areas for improvement.
2. Collect both quantitative and qualitative data.
Your approach to collecting accessibility data should not be limited to one tool or testing process. Instead, diversify your data to ensure quality. Both quantitative and qualitative metrics are factors, including user feedback, number of flagged problems, and insights into all types of tests and validation processes.
3. Run the accessibility check to correct and validate the results.
The range of utility considerations is wider than most testers can accommodate at once. That’s why a range of tools and investigations exist to help you catch problems. For example, neurodegenerative individuals may need accommodation for testing and form that you can host on your website. Running checks for scenarios that affect your users can help you catch all the problems. The testing platforms you can use to collect accessibility data include the following:
Explore these and more tools as you apply data for a better accessibility approach. From here, you will have all the data you need to build a better site. Increasing the audience and building the brand’s reputation can lead to more inclusive programs, so the power of data should not be overlooked in complementing your business accessibility.
Cultivating success through accessibility
Creating an accessible and inclusive platform is not the only right thing to do ethically. It also has significant success effects. For example, the global community of people with disabilities has a spending power of about $ 13 trillion. Competitive participation in this cost pool is one of the many benefits that can result from accessible websites and business models.
Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer covering tech and business.
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