2

I was wondering what is the threshold for the online product / platform / website to take accessibility into account? (Except obvious "always because you never know"). To be precised I am working at IT company, having average, not big, not small number of visitors monthly (let's say around 5000 visitors and 1000 active users in an admin panel monthly). Our customers are mostly development agencies, very tech savvy.

And then the question pops in - shall I also prioritize an audit of the website and the admin panel in the matter of accessibility? I don't expect anyone from our customers to not using full capacity of the computer (keyboard, mouse, vision), but this is only assumption. How can it be checked and same as the title - what's the threshold when accessibility should be prioritized?

3
  • 1
    Both JonW and jazZRo have provided excellent answers, and I don't have anything additional to contribute. So, strictly as a comment, you might consider examining accessibility levels. In most Western countries, AA level compliance is a legal requirement, whereas AAA level compliance is not, so perhaps that's the specific "threshold" you're looking for.
    – Devin
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 17:40
  • Ooo, this is what I was looking for! Thank you so much for the answer :)
    – Niutah
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 15:04
  • There is the European Accessibility Act, which will be applied somewhere in 2025 and does not state that inaccessibility is a punishable offence or anything like that. It also does not consider WCAG AA or AAA levels as mandatory guidelines, although WCAG helps to ensure compliance of course.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 16:28

2 Answers 2

5

This is an easy answer.

You should prioritise 100% for accessibility even if the site is only expected to be used by 1 person.

You wouldn't ask "How much should we prioritise using correct spelling on our website?" because the answer is "well obviously everything should be spelt correctly. How could you even ask that?"

You make content accessible because:

  • A) It's ethical
  • B) it's good business sense (why exclude ~15% of potential customers), and
  • C) It's a legal requirement.

Accessibility issues doesn't just mean 'people in a wheelchair who are totally blind and don't have the use of any of their limbs'. It's people with motor difficulties, colourblindness, people ageing, those with hearing issues, temporarily broken arms, working in noisy offices, new parents who aren't getting enough sleep, someone who has forgotten their glasses that day, someone using an Apple mouse on charge so having to use just the keyboard for the afternoon...

And regardless, 15% of the world population has some sort of disability. And people aren't just born with a disability either. 2% of working age people become disabled each year. You could be one of these people, and I'm sure you'd like to still be able to use the website you built if you are unfortunate enough to lose the use of your arm in a ski-ing accident over Christmas, for instance.

So yes, the answer is that you should focus on accessibility in the same way you proofread a document and spellcheck it before you send it out. Because at best you look like you don't care, and at worst you potentially open yourself up to being sued.

6
  • Maybe my question wasn't clear enough, but I am not mentioning obvious things, like alt text for images or correct contrast of colours or the font big enough to read. I am more asking about the deep implementation of keyboard navigation, measuring data of each single lighthouse measures. I don't think implementing the website and having issues with contrast or some inputs not accessible by the keyboard keys will be ever illegal, as long as it's not on purpose to exclude people with difficulties.
    – Niutah
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 22:32
  • 1
    You always try to make the product the most usable for any person that might be using it, of course, but making the panel accessible with the respect for all single inputs or things that are harder to implement takes another months. So the question is more when should you focus on making your product 100% accessible and not in 70%.
    – Niutah
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 22:35
  • @Niutah It looks like you might not be in the USA, but we have a law here called the Americans with Disabilities Act, and things like contrast and inaccessible inputs are absolutely covered under it. And typically having good intent doesn't cover you in court...
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 23:36
  • I am not in USA indeed. But very nice to hear about it, thank you for the constructive answer :). I will have a look if this is legally shaped in Europe as well.
    – Niutah
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 8:51
  • @Niutah If you're in the UK or anywhere in the EU then accessibility / discrimination laws still apply. But regardless, being keyboard-accessible isn't necessarily a disability thing, you say your customers are IT developers and very tech-savvy - have you seen a developer using a computer? They spend 90% of their time with just the keyboard. Power users probably use keyboards more than 'regular' users.
    – JonW
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 10:19
3

The question comes from an already existing implementation that wasn't designed and implemented with accessibility in mind. That means that accessibility comes as an afterthought and now there is the need to spend lots of hours fixing it. This isn't new. It happened to all the companies I've worked for.

I read the question as: From how many visitors does accessibility pay off, and how strict should the accessibility be implemented?

First: Accessibility is a basic requirement and not a quality (let alone a luxury). It's a matter of actually being able to use the product or otherwise disrespectfully being left out. Don't see it as something that costs extra work and is only worth it when there is extra time and money available. Approach it from the conscious decision to include or exclude people from using your product. Whether or not this decision is based on the available amount of time and money. It's a state of mind.

Second: Accessibility is not difficult. Like any design, you can have an already great design and go the extra mile to improve the user experience even more. Chance is that the product already is largely accessible but just could deliver a better experience for impaired people. Accessibility is about having a logical document structure, clear visuals and text and using the right semantics. These are things that should have been thought of right from the design and at the start of the implementation. But when this comes as an afterthought it is basically about checking each workflow using the tab key, a screen reader and running tools to find contrast and color issues. These are things any designer or developer can do at any time. When you know a little bit about the subject, common sense also can go a long way. It only costs a lot of work if the current product is a complete mess, but otherwise it is a matter of modifying reusable templates and designs tokens. Of course it depends on the size of the project and the amount of designers/developers available and it helps when there is a design system in place.

And last (but not least): Accessibility is rewarding. If you feel like accessibility is counteracting the elegance of a design, think about the logical document structure and clear visuals and text you're aiming for. Unless you want a work of art, that's elegance in a nutshell. If you think it's hard and useless to implement the right semantics, know that SEO also greatly improves from it. And of course the product is open and respectful to more people, you can proudly state that it's accessible and maybe there is even an award to show on the product/site.

Before this becomes a book I want to conclude with the reminder that accessibility can only be done right when you tick all the boxes. People can have difficulties for so many reasons that it isn't possible to say for example that it is made accessible for color blind people and now it accounts for 6% more visitors. A logical structure and clear text is not only for people using a keyboard or assistive tech, it is also necessary for people with visual or cognitive limitations etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.