Universal Design and Accessibility



Universal Design and Accessibility

Are you reading this or listening to it? Wait, what? Listening? To a website?

According to the World Health Organization, there are about 285 million vision-impaired people in the world, from slight issues to complete blindness. They are doing the same things online that we are – enjoying content, shopping, learning and sharing thoughts and ideas with others. These people could be your customers, donors, members and advocates.

Take advantage of an opportunity your competitors may not be – making sure your website utilizes Universal design to provide accessibility to this dynamic marketplace. According to Wikipedia, Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce products and environments (like websites) that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities.

Because there are different levels of sight impairment, there are different levels of website accessibility. For some visitors, simply utilizing more icons and symbols, along with appropriate and larger fonts, is all that’s needed to solve the problem.

However, for those with more significant sight impairments, websites must be optimized for the reading software installed on their devices. Advances in Assistive Technology means that all devices, be they running Windows 7 or 10, iOS, OS X, or Android, all have the technology built-in that allows that device to be used by individuals that are blind and visually impaired. Your site may be mobile optimized, but are you optimized for Universal design?

To develop for these unique readers, there is special coding that needs to be included to make sure the visitor receives information in the same order that a sighted person would. It is not acceptable to expect people to read the whole page from top to bottom.

Headlines, buttons, columns and other visual tactics allow users to browse a page. By properly coding headers and other content, we help set the priority so sight impaired people hear the headings in the order they were intended, allowing them to ‘browse’ the page and find the info they need in a more timely manner.

Marketing Tech understands not just the concept behind this, but more importantly how to build accessible websites. We recently completed a site for the Olmsted Center for Sight (OCS) here in Buffalo, NY. It was an outstanding collaboration in which the OCS site was tested by their members and passed with flying colors. Additionally, OCS has agreed to partner with Marketing Tech to test and troubleshoot sites for accessibility; a stamp of approval from one of the most respected organizations in the world.

With this new found partnership, we’re moving forward by offering Universal design to all new and existing website customers. To bring you up to speed on this important issue and see how your site stacks up, contact us today for your free site audit.

By Jonathan Gill, VP for Marketing Communications, Marketing Tech

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