Ibexa Interface Improvements Planned to Support Web Accessibility
According to a 2023 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.3 billion people, one in six of us, or 16% of the world's population live with some form of disability.
Those with disabilities, impairments, or limitations deserve the same access to information found across the internet as the next person, yet for many reasons this audience faces a whole host of obstacles when it comes to digital access despite existing and forthcoming legislation.
Awareness around web accessibility is growing yet barriers remain
It would be fair to say that we have made some progress when we consider the various technologies on the market today, including screen readers, magnification software, text readers, speech input software, and alternative input devices (such as single switch entry, head pointers, and motion tracking). These assistive technologies, amongst others, have improved accessibility for those with a wide range of disabilities including visual, cognitive, learning, neurological, auditory, physical, and speech.
User experience sits at the forefront of modern-day digital strategies for companies regardless of size, shape, or industry to drive engagement, revenue, and to enhance the overall customer journey. Yet those with disabilities often remain an underserved audience. Many companies, even those in the public sector where legislation is already in place, or is soon to be rolled out, are falling short.
A 2023 report from WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) found that 96.3% of the internet’s top one million homepages have detectable accessibility errors. Down from 96.8% in 2022 and 97.8% in 2021. Whilst we have seen a very slight year-on-year improvement, we must all work harder to accelerate change if we are to fix this critical issue.
From the same research we also learnt that error density equates to 4.8% which means that users with disabilities would encounter one fault in every 21 homepage elements.
There were however notable differences in accessibility errors depending on the site category. Whilst legal, government, and political websites performed best, followed by social media, society, education, and careers there is still significant room for improvement.
Amongst the worst performing categories were news, weather, information, sports, and shopping.
Common web accessibility issues
There are four key principles of accessibility which your businesses must consider, to ensure that your website and channels are fully accessible:
Perceivable - It’s important that users can see and hear your content with ease, and that supporting text is included for non-text content. Alternative media types should be made available and ensure that content can be clearly and accurately re-laid when using some of the assistive technologies which we named earlier in this article.
Operable - Your website must be fully functional when using only a keyboard. Users must be able to navigate and find content easily and given adequate time to consume content in full. Avoid using any content which could trigger seizures such as flashing videos or animated gifs.
Understandable – The text found throughout your website and app should be easy to understand, using wording which is clear and concise wherever possible.
Robust – Be sure that both existing and future assistive technologies are compatible to maximize accessibility for all users.
12 common issues seen across websites
- Absent or duplicate headings, or poor heading hierarchy
- Missing alt image text
- Small font sizes or illegible styles
- Inclusions of images which contain text that cannot be read by supporting tools
- Insufficient color contrasts
- Too many links
- Non-descriptive text on hyperlinks
- Small clickable buttons or CTAs
- Missing video captions and transcripts
- Poor navigation menus which cannot be operated using a keyboard
- Inadequate mobile experiences
- Low compatibility with assistive technologies
Many of these issues can be easily resolved assuming that your Learning Management Systems (LMS), Content Management Systems (CMS), or Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is able to support these changes.
Six barriers limiting progression in web accessibility
So, as we have already established, awareness around the topic of accessibility is growing and the need to improve is clear. A range of tools exist, regardless of an individual’s disability, to view, understand, navigate, and interact with a website, yet most websites, as we have already discovered, are still falling short. This means that serious boundaries remain for users with disabilities. These shortcomings often occur due to one, or several of the reasons listed below:
- Business leaders often see web accessibility as an unnecessary cost and an added complication to their digital transformation strategy. They may not recognize the long-term value for their organization.
- People with disabilities are not consulted when forming a strategy for web accessibility and key areas are often overlooked, undervalued, or intentionally left out.
- There is often little support when it comes to backing web accessibility initiatives.
- Many staff members are unable to interpret and understand guidelines or find ways to bring best practices to life. Especially when web accessibility is not their primary job function.
- Many organizations are yet to begin or are in the initial stages of their digital transformation process, and whilst some have accessibility in scope, it is not a priority.
- Often larger, more established companies have built their websites on outdated LMS or CMS platforms, so migrating to a more capable technology such as a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) which can better support current and upcoming legislation, amongst a wealth of other benefits may seem daunting.
Despite these obstacles, many companies, particularly those that operate within the public sector, must begin setting out strategies to adhere to existing and new legislation which is on the horizon.
Legislation, where do you stand?
UK web accessibility
On 23 September 2018, the UK introduced accessibility regulations for public sector bodies which built on existing obligations of the Equality Act 2010. The latest regulations aim to ensure that the content and design on websites and mobile apps is clear and simple for its users who have long-term illness, impairment, or disabilities.
All public sector bodies must meet the 2018 requirements unless they are otherwise exempt. Public sector bodies who must comply include:
- Central government and local government organizations
- Some charities and other non-government organizations
You can read more about how to make your website or app accessible and find out how to publish an accessibility statement here.
European web accessibility legislation
Major developments are also taking place in relation to web accessibility in the European Union where they have been exploring creative and functional approaches to supplying equal access for all its users.
The Web Accessibility Directive 2016 requires all public sector websites and apps within EU member states to implement, enforce, and keep a uniform set of standards. Those that do not comply were hit with fines, and legal penalties.
In 2019 the EU moved its focus to the private sector to standardize accessibility for essential products and services.
The European Accessibility Act will come into play on 28 July 2025. This applies to both public sector organizations and private sector companies and covers a broad range of products and services, including:
- Computers and operating systems
- ATMs, ticketing, and check-in machines
- TV equipment related to digital television services
- Telephony services and related equipment
- Audio-visual services such as television broadcasts and related consumer equipment
- Services related to air, bus, rail, and waterborne passenger transport
- Banking services
Web accessibility for private companies
Although businesses may seem to be exempt from regulations affecting the public sector and the European Accessibility Act won’t come into effect until 2025, they do still have responsibilities to users (and staff) under existing legislation. Such legislation includes the UK’s Equality Act which ensures that all users have equal access to the digital world.
As we previously alluded to, the onsite user journey is key to a successful business and site visitors are more likely to return if they have had a positive experience with your channels.
We have already found that 16% of the global population live with some form of disability which represents a huge target audience. So, by focusing on accessibility you can expect to reach a broader audience, see site metrics improve, and customers, sales, and revenue grow.
By fixing some of those common web issues that we listed earlier, you can also expect to see higher rankings within Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). By simply adding missing alt image text, making content clearer, having a clutter free page, and reducing bounce rates, you can expect to achieve greater organic visibility.
Finally, it’s a crucial step to future-proofing your digital business. We live in a world where inclusivity and accessibility are core values that businesses should embrace and share with users, and it’s a topic which we at Ibexa are in huge support of.
Whilst legal regulations are being rolled out for public sector organizations, it is only a matter of time before key players and competitors within your industry will make web accessibility a priority and 2025 isn’t far away. So, planning needs to start now! Those that fail to act will be left behind.
Ibexa pledges to improve interface to support web accessibility
The topics we have covered in this article may at first seem overwhelming when you consider how to implement them across your own channels. It’s clear that significant work must be done to make the web accessible to everyone. For this reason, Ibexa is developing a strategy alongside our trusted partner CIVIC UK to make improvements to our administration interface to support this important movement.
As a trusted Ibexa Silver Partner CIVIC specializes in digital strategy, UX and accessibility, web development, CMS and DXP platforms, hosting and support. To date, the UK based digital agency has completed over 1,000 projects for a wide range of businesses and public sector organizations.
By understanding the unique needs of each of their clients, CIVIC has built a strong reputation for delivering user-friendly websites which prioritize user experience and accessibility at every step of the user journey.