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Improving web accessibility – Is the web inaccessible?

On April 4, I went to the 5th edition of Nord Conversion Day, organized by the agency Wexperience, specialist in digital ergonomics. I’m not going to tell you about everything I saw and/or learned at this event, because it may be quite a long time, but know that it was a beautiful event, well organized and above all interesting.

Rather, I wanted to talk to you about a topic that occupied most of my afternoon at NCD19, namely, web accessibility. Unfortunately, I realized that most of the web, whether it’s a website or an app, is very difficult to access for people with vision problems, cognitive impairments and/or other disabilities.

The observation: web accessibility in France

During the first conference on the subject, I had the opportunity to have a live demonstration of what it could be like to browse an app by a blind person. Mathieu Froidure, President of Urbilog (a web accessibility agency), gives us a demonstration of what he can hear when he browses a website or e-commerce application. What was my astonishment when I heard for 5 minutes the same “Button 1”, “Bouton 2”, “Image 1”, “Image 2” in a loop. Then, through two people from the Auchan group, we learned how Urbilog now supports the group in improving the accessibility of its network of sites.

Technically, it’s not enough to do much to start making it easier for them to navigate. Add alt to the images, improve the contrasts of your site, enlarge fonts, etc.

During a roundtable discussion on the inaccessibility of the web, I enjoyed a passage by Jeremiah Boroy (founder of Aditevent, a company specializing in accessibility of events) and hard of hearing himself, who took as an example overall:

A person in an armchair, in front of a building with steps, without ramps, without elevator, he is in a handicap; whereas, if you put that same person in front of a building, with steps certainly, but with a ramp and an elevator, that person is not in a handicap, he can do as everyone else.

I really enjoyed this part because I realized that there were two factors in the disability, and the environment in which the person was in was one. We must not forget that the web, digital is an environment that should not be overlooked.

During the same roundtable, Stephanie Laffargue, (Director of Studies at the CSA Institute, not to be confused with the Higher Council of Audiovisual) presented to us the Illectronism and the percentage that this represented in the population.

Illectronism is a term that is too common at the moment, it is an adaptation of the word illiteracy in the field of digital. To globalize, this concerns people who have a lack of knowledge to use electronic/digital resources.

How can you improve the accessibility of your website?

Of course, I am not a specialist on the subject, but I intend to take an interest in it and raise awareness among my team as I go along.

I would like to thank Damien Senger (@hiwelo), who was present at the panel discussion and Design Systems Accessibility lead in Amsterdam, with whom we had the opportunity to talk at length before leaving. He introduced us to a Chrome extension made by Microsoft, Accessibility Insights for Web that will allow you to analyze your site with their FastPass feature, which will allow you to trace common accessibility issues with high impact.

With this extension, you will also be able to check your “Tab stops” which represent the navigation of your website via the tab button. Generally, it’s not great. Hidden elements, SEO hacks, poor code design prevents consistent and understandable navigation by people with disabilities.

If you want to go further, I can advise you to go to sites that make a checklist of essential points from the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which is classified in 3 levels, A (beginner), AA (intermediate) and AAA (advanced). Checklist WCAG.

I realized one thing, it is our responsibility, as a developer, designer, designer, project manager to do what is necessary (at least the minimum!) to make navigation more enjoyable and not put them in a handicap situation.

Making a site accessible does not cost more if the teams in charge of the project are sensitized and if they take this aspect into account from the genesis. As Mathieu Froidure said at the conference, we must not take this subject as a constraint but as a market to conquer!

Front page image: mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

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