Accessibility matters

Accessibility matters

Accessibility matters

November 19th, 2015 – 7 Comments

Usability is important: for everyone. To make sure your site can be properly used by all your visitors (even if they’re (visually) impaired), you have to optimize your site’s accessibility. Every software developer should at least have some basic interest in this. Well-known WordPress accessibility expert Rian Rietveld has trained both our review and development team and although we’re doing a lot of things right, there’s always room for improvement. With every release, we try to improve our software a bit in terms of accessibility as well.

Accessibility matters

What is accessibility?

Accessibility is about how well your software or website can be used by the visually impaired visitor, for instance. Wikipedia puts it like this:

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

Accessibility matters

We have an aging population, that much is clear. That growing group of senior citizens is getting more and more familiar with the internet, using iPads and Samsung Galaxy’s to order pizza and book hotels. And set up their own websites. Although we don’t want this, our vision reduces with age. Our website and software need to be accessible for this growing group of visitors.

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Of course, there are more visually impaired people, think along the lines of (color) blindness and blurry vision. 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above. Source: WHO.

Color blindness (color vision deficiency, or CVD) affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8.3%) and 1 in 200 women in the world (0.5%). Source: Colour Blind Awareness.
I’ve checked multiple resources: About 50.4% of the world’s population is male, 49.6% is female. With 7.3 billion people currently living on the planet, that means over 300 million color blind males and over 18 million color blind females. That’s quite a lot of people you’re missing out on when you’re not optimizing your website or software for blind or color blind visitors!

I totally get that not all the blind people use the internet and I also understand that not all color blind people need an adjusted website, per se. But it’s really not that hard to optimize your website or software. WordPress has an accessibility team monitoring WordPress. Drupal is working on accessibility. So should you.

It’s not just visual impairment

There’s more to accessibility than visual impairment. Less visible (oh the irony) conditions that can cause accessibility issues include for instance dyslexia (and other reading difficulties) and dexterity difficulties. Severe dexterity difficulties mean users are unlikely to use a mouse, and rely on the keyboard instead (Source: Powermapper.com). Have you ever tried to use your website, or our software for that matter, without using a mouse? It’s a tough job, I tell you.

And let’s not forget about the deaf visitor that wanted to take our Basic SEO training and was facing over 2 hours of videos without subtitles. It’s quite easy to add these, and so we did.

A lot to think about for every website owner, website developer and software developer. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s very likely we’ll follow up on this article with more in-depth information on accessibility. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!


7 Responses to Accessibility matters

  1. Mytechpulse
    By Mytechpulse on 1 December, 2015

    Awesome article! Web accessibility topic is very vast and you have provided a good piece of information here. Thanks for sharing this info.

  2. Muhammad Hassaan Zeb
    By Muhammad Hassaan Zeb on 23 November, 2015

    Web accessibility is one of the most confusing things when it comes to wordpress. Spreading awareness about it was a nice idea.

    Good to see someone working on this part.

  3. Nicolas
    By Nicolas on 23 November, 2015

    Thanks for this post michiel, it will be really good for visually impaired people if they can get access to websites too. I will try to do some positive changes to my websites to that many visually impaired or color blind people can access my website.

  4. diseño ux en Barcelona
    By diseño ux en Barcelona on 21 November, 2015

    Accessibility are one factor important in the process to ecommerce sales!

  5. Mark Root-Wiley
    By Mark Root-Wiley on 19 November, 2015

    I’m so happy to see Yoast focus more on accessibility! Rian is awesome (based on my Twitter feed at least), so that’s a great person to work with :)

    One place that would be great to start is the Page Analysis icons. I’m not the first to call attention to this by any means: http://neliosoftware.com/color-blindness-and-wordpress/

    The Page Analysis metabox is literally my go-to example of a design that does not account for color blind people, yet this is maybe the defining feature of Yoast SEO! Check out this screenshot using a simulated version of Protanopia (the most common type of red-green colorblindness): https://cloudup.com/iJaJKIm4xcJ (note how the traffic signal also has extremely low contrast for someone who sees the world this way)

    Coming up with solutions isn’t too hard, here are two options I threw together in 10 minutes using Dashicons (no testing for contrast):
    https://cloudup.com/iS8YBwLjzBt
    https://cloudup.com/i_sGD5KhT9k

    Also, I’m really skeptical of the new “traffic signal” icon system in 3.0. I personally just don’t like how it looks, but I’m more concerned that it just doesn’t work. If you walk around asking most people on the street where Red, Yellow, and Green are on traffic lights, I bet most people will know Yellow for sure and be unsure of the other two. Furthermore, even if people *do* know the correct order, you’ll need to localize it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_light#Three_or_more_aspects_.26_positioning_of_aspects):

    “When the traffic signal with three aspects is arranged horizontally or sideways, the arrangement depends on the rule of the road. In right-lane countries, the sequence is red – yellow – green. In left-lane countries, the sequence is green – yellow – red.”

    Finally, I’d love to hear Rian’s reaction to your post on alt text (https://yoast.com/image-seo-alt-tag-and-title-tag-optimization/). As I made clear in the comments (https://yoast.com/image-seo-alt-tag-and-title-tag-optimization/#comment-352148), I think your advice actively encourages inaccessible alt text and needlessly promotes title attributes.

    But I should return to this point: I’m glad to hear you think accessibility is important. It’s awesome that you’re working on it. I can’t wait to see further improvements!

  6. SATU SEO
    By SATU SEO on 19 November, 2015

    I want to ask, why did the latest update Yoast plugins frequent cutting otomoatis url . eg: tutorial-seo-google-1-yeras.html be tutorial-seo-go-yeras.html ??

  7. Richard Gauder
    By Richard Gauder on 19 November, 2015

    GREAT article! We’ve been developing accessible WordPress websites for over 6 years now and the lack of awareness or articles about web accessibility is…confusing. So happy to see an article about it on Yoast! Thanks also for pointing out the percentage of colourblind and the aging population. Being inclusive is not only the right thing to do, it’s good business!


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