Digital accessibility is of huge importance to any brand, as it ensures that all people, regardless of ability, can have equal access to a website. In order to highlight the importance of web accessibility, we hosted a webinar with Perkins Access and Wunderkind’s accessibility expert, Rachel Brandt. While Wunderkind is constantly working to make sure our own experiences are more accessible, we did want to highlight key takeaways from the webinar that can help anyone understand more about accessibility and why it matters so much to people who need it. Take a look at our interview with Rachel, and why accessibility is necessary for any business:
Wunderkind: Can you give a broad overview of what accessibility is?
Rachel Brandt: At a high level, digital accessibility means that you’re making sure that content is available and inclusive for all users, regardless of if they use assistive technology to access it or not. This means making sure your site is compatible for visitors who use tools like screen readers, voice-to-text, and keyboard navigation. For our clients, we work hard with our own internal experts (such as product managers, engineers, UX and visual designers) to ensure that the experiences we create are accessible by as large of an audience as possible.
Wunderkind: What do people with disabilities need from accessible websites?
RB: People with disabilities should feel confident knowing that their favorite brands will allow them to use native tools they’re comfortable with to access their sites. Simply put, these customers need experiences to work! Everyone on the web has, at one point or another, come across a buggy website. For example, a page doesn’t scroll down, or clicking a ‘Submit’ button doesn’t go anywhere. Now, imagine how frustrating that would be if it were a more regular occurrence! But even beyond avoiding these blockers and dead-ends, we want to be sure to offer our engaging experiences to all users. We’re proud to say that we work with all of our clients to ensure our onsite experiences are as compliant and captivating as possible.
Wunderkind: Why is accessibility so important for brands to ensure they’re getting right?
There are a few different reasons why accessibility is so important for brands. The first is that it opens you up to being able to reach more customers. It’s estimated that one in five people will have a disability at some point in their life, so making sure that your site gives them a good, simple UX is of utmost importance. Being accessible is good business—you don’t want to exclude anyone from being able to use your site and purchase your products. There can also be legal implications if you don’t have an accessible site. Lastly, creating accessible experiences is the right thing to do! So, maintaining best practices regarding digital accessibility not only helps a large percentage of your customers, but also helps keep your company safe.
Wunderkind: Any things people should avoid? Or common violations?
RB: There are a few things that can be missed or not implemented properly when working to create accessible content—and these are some items I recommend working on first if you’re not sure where to start! Appropriate font contrast and ensuring you have large enough text sizes are important areas to focus on. Having clear and concise alternative text for images is critical for people who use screen readers. Visible focus indicators are an important area you don’t want to miss as well as this helps those who do not use a mouse.
I think one misconception we come across a lot is that focusing on accessibility means poor design for your site. But this is 100% not the case—inclusive design leads to an improved UX for all users. We work with our clients’ brand styles when creating these personalized solutions. We would suggest working with an inclusive design expert and working with a company like Wunderkind that focuses on this.
Wunderkind: Are there ways for Wunderkind Brands to ensure that they’re maintaining accessibility?
RB: There are a lot of tools out there that are designed to help companies maintain compliance. While many of them are great at identifying areas of improvement on a website, they can also give false positives or miss areas surrounding usability. We think it’s important to work with real people who understand usability for these audits and recommendations. This makes it extremely important for brands to work with companies like Wunderkind to help ensure that they’re maintaining compliant, accessible solutions.
Wunderkind: How does Wunderkind ensure our products don’t negatively affect customers’ accessibility?
RB: As a company, we’re working really hard to make sure that we stay proactive around accessibility instead of being reactive. We have an internal team dedicated to working on this, and we’ve also hired a company to help us audit our own site and experiences within the past year. Together, we make sure we’re staying on top of industry best practices for our clients.
If you want to learn more about how you can create accessible onsite experiences, reach out to an expert at Wunderkind today.