Dispelling Prevalent Myths About Web Accessibility
A popular myth relating to Web accessibility and user experience is that accessibility and attractive design simply do not go together. A significant number of the advocates of Web accessibility tend to create either content- or technology-driven Web sites that do not demonstrate that creativity can also be part of an accessible Web site user experience.
However, Web accessibility need not affect the visual design of a site in any way. All Web sites should be beautiful and easy to use, while also offering a high level of accessibility, which in turn creates an excellent user experience and a positive online journey.
A related myth is that accessible Web sites are ugly and boring. In reality, accessibility has nothing to do with how visually attractive a site may be. The misconception that Web sites have to sacrifice design for accessibility comes from the early days of the Internet, when technology restricted developers’ choices in terms of achieving both accessibility and aesthetic design. At that time, developers considered text-only Web sites that were devoid of any elements that increased the visual appeal of a site to be the only acceptable solution for accessibility. However, in today’s reality, Web designers have the freedom to design beautiful, creative, interactive, and engaging experiences that are also accessible. Those who claim otherwise may be misinterpreting accessibility requirements and thus seeing them as being more restrictive than they actually are.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explain that Web designers can use images and videos on Web sites, as long as they ensure that this content is fully accessible by providing captions for videos and offering alternative text descriptions.
Accessible sites do not have to be text-only Web sites, with monochromatic designs and static content. After all, accessibility is a key part of user experience that all Web designers should embrace. Implementing accessibility employs a number of layout and design options that mostly happen behind the scenes and do not affect the presentation of the Web site. For example, font sizes can be large or small, as long as they are resizable, and you can use as many images as you like, as long as you also provide a detailed, alternative description to users.
Today’s Web designers should consider implementing interactive features for different devices—for example, presenting information in a compelling format for modern Web browsers, as well as for assistive devices such as screen readers. This lets you improve your overall Web page design, while sustaining a Web site’s level of accessibility.