A Web That Would Be Accessible?
According to Tim Berners-Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, “the power of the Web is in its universality“. The man who chairs the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that aims to fix the standards of the Web and its HTML main language, raises the accessibility as an intangible principle.
The Web accessibility is a universal right since 2006 stated by the United Nations Organisation and is eased by governmental standards willing to make the current available content more accessible. However, it is important to dissociate accessibility from availability. The content from a website is often available but not accessible.
Therefore, the equal opportunities and the access to information offered on the Web are necessary to universalise the use of the Internet. All the more so as the ageing population (especially in Quebec) and the Web necessity for disabled people are not taken in consideration by a large part of the actors contributing to the online content production. Unfortunately, these actors usually don’t design web platforms for this particular population suffering from handicap, whatever it is a visual, auditive or motor handicap, and this increasing audience is still deprived.
As Abraham Lincoln was saying, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” is likely to define every democratic political system while the Web accessibilty, real avatar of the democracy 2.0, should be the use of the Internet by the users and for the users.
Law and Standard Levels
WCAG 2.0 was set up in the aim of reaching this objective. This document establishes the accessibility standards known worldwide and enables the harmonization of the practices to encourage content access. An audit can validate the accessibility level of a website, which is not mandatory, except for governmental websites.
There are 3 levels of accessibility:
- A – what must be done to remove barriers to access content,
- AA – what should be done to encourage this accessibility even more,
- AAA – what could be done to improve the comfort access.
This very last marking is very high and extremely difficult to reach. Therefore, upgrading the mark can be done only by meeting the required criteria of a lower level.
These criteria recalls the process followed by private rating companies such as Standard & Poor’s, in charge of estimating the risk of a company or country financial solvency. If we follow the same idea, most of the current websites would be as bad rated as a country that couldn’t pay down its debt in terms of respect and accessibility.
These digital accessibility practices are still marginal among the populations creating or holding a website, although this standard adoption tends to democratize inside public and parapublic governments.
Today, validating all the criteria from the A level and trying to reach the AA mark should be an objective to get a qualitative website.
Is Web Accessibility Necessary?
Web accessibility is not limited to push interactions and online content to the handicapped population. This right as an access to digital information fulfills a need of an ageing population, especially in the “Western World”, or handles material limits (Internet access, OS version,…).
The digital accessibility enables to:
- improve SEO
- enhance the provider’s brand
- gain in quality and productivity (ex: decreasing maintenance costs)
That is why the expertise should universalize in order to improve the access to information available on the Internet and encourage online freedom of speech, symbol of democratization and web universalization.
Would you like to know if your website is accessible? Contact Eric, our Web accessibility expert!