There is no doubting the ever-rising challenge that many websites are now facing, due to website accessibility. Web developers are having real difficulty in not only understanding but interpreting the guidelines that are in place, when it comes to website accessibility.
The latest WCAG updated came back in June of 2018, known as WCAG 2.1. November of 2020 was then set to see the release of WCAG 2.2, but this has been pushed back and it is now set to be released later this year. This is set to build on this further, which is most likely to lead to further complications and changes required of websites, in order for them to comply with this guidance.
Nearly one in five people in the U.S. has a disability of some kind and for many of them, it impacts the way they are able to interact with content online. The first example is through visual, so people who are either blind or have low vision will often interact with websites by using screen readers. These work by the screen readers reading the content on each web page out loud. This means that websites need to ensure they are able to do so. Another example is with auditory, so people who are deaf or having hearing difficulty, must be able to access video content for example. Captions could be adapted on sites, in order to tackle this issue.
Dexterity is another example, and they may find it challenging to use a mouse or touch screen. Website creators must therefore ensure that content on their website is able to be accessed by alternative methods. Cognitive differences are another common disability that brings about issues for websites. People with cognitive differences may find it difficult to navigate websites and understand the content on the page. Many of the implemented changes for the above disabilities are also helpful.
Websites are then being pushed to ensure they are building in accessibility with the design, platform and content. This is to ensure they are making to easier for people with disabilities to be able to navigate the site and access the content they need. So, as mentioned, it can be a real challenge for websites, but many are now using the Siteimprove website accessibility tool. This has been created purely to help with tackling these challenges and enables websites to easily follow and adhere to the International Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) across all conformance levels. This will ensure websites are safeguarded and ensure an inclusive digital presence for all.
Accessibility in an Internet of Things world
As detailed in an excellent article of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, as the population ages, accessibility should be kept in mind when designing IoT devices likely to be used by impaired or aging people. Adapted user interfaces and input methods are needed to ensure IoT accessibility for the elderly and people with reduced motor control.
Frameworks like the Web of Things extends the Internet of Things to include additional layers for accessing, finding, sharing, and composing information. By supporting the design of more interoperable IoT devices, this framework could help create a link between assistive solutions like screen readers and IoT systems.
Although much of the attention today is on web accessibility, Internet of Things accessibility should be considered as a key topic for IoT adoption and success in the consumer area in the years to come.