Making websites and apps accessible to people with disabilities is crucial for an inclusive online experience. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about web accessibility that cause confusion and hinder progress. Let’s review and debunk the 10 most common accessibility myths to clear up assumptions and help move accessibility efforts in the right direction.
Myth #1: Web Accessibility is Only for Blind People
Reality: While making sites navigable for blind users is an important part of accessibility, it also benefits people with many other disabilities. Those with low vision, motor impairments restricting their ability to use a mouse, deafness and hearing loss, seizures triggered by flashing lights, and cognitive issues can also take advantage of accessibility features. Accessibility helps all people with disabilities access online content.
Myth #2: Accessibility Means Basic Text-Only Sites
Reality: Many wrongly assume accessibility equates to boring, ugly pages without images, video or multimedia. This myth comes from early text-based browsers used to access the web. Modern sites can be vibrant, engaging and feature-rich while meeting accessibility standards through alternative text, captions, transcripts and assistive technology compatibility. Accessible sites can be aesthetically pleasing and exciting while serving users’ needs.
Myth #3: Color Blindness Isn’t a Real Disability
Reality: There are different types of color vision deficiencies that make it hard to tell certain colors apart, see contrast and perceive images accurately. Color blindness qualifies as a disability and affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women globally. Failing to design sites viewable by those with color blindness excludes this large demographic. It’s straightforward to avoid this by using tools to check color contrast ratios and avoid communicating vital information through color alone.
Myth #4: Achieving Accessibility Standards is Expensive
Reality: Many developers and business owners believe accessibility will blow budgets, but small tweaks implemented during initial site creation minimize extra costs. Simple changes like descriptive link text, captions for visual media, and using proper heading structure follow long-established web standards and have little impact on overall cost. Utilizing affordable website accessibility tools like AllAccessible can supercharge your team’s accessibility efforts. Planning accessibility from the start has essentially no impact on budget. The expensive route is going back to overhaul inaccessible sites later.
Myth #5: Only Huge Companies Like Google Need to Worry About Accessibility
Reality: Accessibility often wrongly seems like a huge enterprise issue not relevant to smaller businesses. However, many countries legally require websites, apps and electronic documents to meet accessibility standards under disability discrimination laws. Businesses both tiny and huge should evaluate their digital accessibility to avoid potential legal issues and provide equal access to all users. Neglecting this can cause major consequences regardless of company size and resources.
Myth #6: Automated Testing Means My Site is 100% Accessible
Reality: No amount of automated accessibility testing with tools and checkers can deem a site flawlessly accessible. Automated tests are helpful to flag common errors, insufficient color contrast and other basic issues. Unfortunately, barriers like complicated site structure, confusing wording and missing image descriptions require human judgment. Automated testing provides a starting point, but human evaluation is essential for nuanced, usable accessibility.
Myth #7: If My Site Gets Low Traffic, Accessibility Doesn’t Matter
Reality: It’s short-sighted to dismiss accessibility for sites with lower visits. Roughly 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability, from mild to severe. Very likely some share of a site’s users has accessibility needs whether traffic is high or low. Optimizing site design for disability access allows that segment of visitors to view and use the content. Beyond social good, accessible design simply makes business sense allowing sites to serve more potential customers.
Myth #8: PDFs Can’t Possibly be Accessible
Reality: Portable Document Format documents notoriously cause accessibility issues. However, PDFs can absolutely meet accessibility standards when properly formatted. This requires using styles, headings, proper reading order, alt text and tags so assistive technologies make sense of the structure and content. Too often documents get exported directly to PDF without accessibility consideration. But with available tools and knowledge, it’s straightforward to create accessible PDFs.
Myth #9: Videos and Audio are Exempt from Accessibility Standards
Reality: All web media requires accessibility design consideration. Videos should contain captions and audio descriptions conveying visual details audibly. Live audio must supply transcripts posted online immediately afterwards. Just as websites need markup, non-text content needs supplementary details and structure so those with disabilities access material comparable to others. Media accessibility minimizes discrimination by delivering equal opportunity to consume content through supporting formats.
Myth #10: Web Accessibility is an Impossible Burden for Small Teams
Reality: For smaller web teams without resources to hire dedicated accessibility staff, meeting standards seems overwhelming. However, many tools and online resources make self-education on guidelines like WCAG 2.1 achievable. Free checkers help evaluate site issues. Adjusting processes to address common errors early on keeps accessibility from becoming an unattainable afterthought. Staying current as standards evolve takes commitment, but mitigates undue burden. With planning and gradual skill building, web accessibility is completely feasible for companies big and small alike.
Moving accessibility forward requires clearing up confusion caused by assumptions and myths. Developer education combined with disability community input makes standards adoption reasonably achievable for all. Constructive discussion and cooperation, not misplaced burden myths, pave the road to digital inclusion.