One can truthfully say that web usability and web (digital) accessibility are closely related. But one must also think about the instances when it’s important to distinguish between digital accessibility and usability. One such example concerns preventing discrimination against people living with a disability. Most developers and designers should understand that both accessibility and usability can have somewhat different requirements and standards.
Defining Usability and Digital Accessibility
Web usability is defined as the ease in which users are able to use a website.
And according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) digital accessibility is the means through which “people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with, and contribute to the web”.
Having web accessibility means that everyone can use it. This means people with all disabilities can access websites. In other words, individuals with disabilities; including but not limited to visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological conditions can easily utilize the web.
Differences of Usability and Digital Accessibility
Sometimes the terms “Usability” and “Web Accessibility” are misused or confused on what they clearly mean. Usability basically shows how easy the system or website is to use. Proper web accessibility, on the other hand, ensures that the web can be accessed by all people regardless of the technology they use or their physical limitations.
Web usability focuses on the user’s characteristics such as: environment, task, and workflow. In the past designers mainly focused on common user characteristics, and may not have included people with disabilities in their research practices. One of the goals of web accessibility is to make the web friendlier for people that have disabilities. Accessibility also can benefit people without disabilities, such as people using mobile devices.
Key to Digital Accessibility
If designers and developers are looking to improve their websites to better accommodate users with disabilities, it’s best to understand the basic limitations these individuals face, as well as their unique technology needs. It is important to focus on all disability groups (hearing, motor skill, cognitive and sight related). One of the best ways web developers and designers can successfully modify their sites is to get people that are living with disabilities involved with the early designs when making your website or product. They can assist in identifying accessibility issues due to the fact that they encounter them on a daily basis; problems that an automated accessibility evaluation testing software cannot atch.
Digital Accessibility Guidelines
The W3C Web accessibility interactive has a set of accessibility guidelines called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) that covers all four disability groups. Using these guidelines, will help make websites usable and accessible for everyone. For more information on usability, and digital accessibility check out these articles by WeCo’s Accessibility Team:
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.