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Experiencing Accessibility Firsthand: The GAAD Edition

In previous posts, we highlighted how digital accessibility is vital and legally required for businesses and how to address it for your specific industry. Today, we’re joining in the celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual event that raises awareness of the need for digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

One of the goals of GAAD is to get designers, developers, usability professionals, and others to experience accessibility issues firsthand so they have a greater appreciation for the needs of disabled users. For example, most of us don’t realize the difficulties blind or visually impaired people face when using screen readers, so it’s enlightening to experience how they work—or don’t work—in person.

In that spirit, we asked three of our colleagues here at Trellist to close their eyes and try to navigate a pair of demonstration websites using the JAWS screen reader software.

Watch their experiences in the video below:

While visually similar, the “before remediation” and “after remediation” sites had significant accessibility differences. Once our colleagues closed their eyes and tried to navigate the “before” site by sound, they were immediately frustrated by missing headings, missing alt text, and unlabeled graphics. These bogged down the screen reader and made it hard for users to understand exactly what the screen was showing them and what actions to take.

The “after” site was much easier to navigate, thanks to improved image descriptions, labeled buttons, accessible table markup, and an easily understood list of controls for the page. Other changes improved the user experience for sighted and visually impaired users alike, including the removal of a confusing CAPTCHA form in favor of a security question.

Although these are demonstration sites, they highlight some of the most common accessibility issues found on the web. According to WebAIM Million Report, 98.1% home pages have at least one WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 failure, meaning less-than-optimal experiences occur on nearly every website visited by people with disabilities.

Are your own websites creating frustrating experiences for users? Are they legally compliant? Are you communicating effectively with customers with disabilities? As COVID-19 keeps many customers home and forces a shift to e-commerce, organizations that don’t prioritize digital accessibility risk losing sales. Accessibility is simply good business: thoughtful web design improves the experience for all customers.

Trellist applies accessibility best practices to all of our user experience and development work, and the result is websites and digital content that all end users can easily access and understand. Contact us to learn how we can enhance the accessibility of your digital footprint.

In our next post, we'll delve deeper into how firsthand accessibility experiences influence the digital work we produce for our clients.

About the author

Supraja John

Web Development
A skilled web developer and team leader, Supraja is responsible for supporting and maintaining CMS platforms and email marketing programs for a number of national and global clients. Supraja is passionate about applying the latest trends in web development to improve the end customer’s experience. 

About Trellist

Trellist is a professional services firm delivering performance-driven business solutions that are flexible, innovative and optimized to maximize efficiency and return. The firm consults on, and integrates, data with marketing, design, technology and digital services for clients at the global, national and regional level. Trellist utilizes a unique approach to business—from the firm’s employee-shared structure, to how it partners with its clients. 

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