Web accessibility is important for many reasons, not least of which is ensuring full and equal access for every person. You wouldn't build a two-story building without an elevator, and likewise you shouldn't build a website without the necessary conditions to make it accessible to everyone.
Building and maintaining an accessible website isn't just the right thing to do; it's also a smart business strategy. By having a fully accessible website for your agency, you're making your services available to the entire population by not excluding anyone.
Why We Build Accessible Websites
There are many different kinds of disabilites that affect people all around us, some in ways that are plain to see and others in ways that are not. Regardless of how we as individuals perceive the world, or how common we might assume disabilities are, or how we might imagine a disability would affect a person, no one should be excluded from enjoying the beneifts of fully utilizing your website.
How We Build Accessible Websites
We take a multi-faceted approach to building accessible insurance websites. We discuss and assess the accessibility implications of our decisions at every step of our design and build processes, using automated tooling and manual checks to ensure our websites can be navigated, understood, and consumed by everyone.
Some of this work might seem obvious, and some of it mundane, but it's all necessary to ensure we don't inadvertently put up any roadblocks that would keep people from being able to fully use the websites we build.
This involves checking every part of every website, from the use of text as part of an image (which screen-reader software currently can't understand) to contrast ratios between text and links and the background(s) behind them.
Common Accessibility Problems
If you manage a website or are considering building one on your own (as opposed to using a specialist like us), it's good to understand some fundamentals about website accessibility. The first thing to understand is that there are many types of disabilities that affect people and their ability to interact with a website in different ways.
For instance, a person with a vision impairment may not be able to read small text or differentiate between similar colors (or see your website at all), whereas a person with a motor impairment may have trouble using a mouse and might prefer to navigate the web with a keyboard instead.
Familiarize yourself with the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Look at examples of inaccessible content and interactions, as well as simulations to show what an impairment might cause a user to see or experience, and compare them with the accessible versions.
For example, here is a high-contrast button next to a low-contrast button:
It's instantly clear which is easier to read, but what you may not realize (if you don't have a vision impairment yourself) is that the low-contrast version may be impossible for a vision-impaired person to read.
There are many aspects of web design where accessibility problems are easy to miss, which is why it's important to know what to look for and how to use automated tools to help find problems.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (also called the ADA) is a federal law in the United States that prevents discrimination on the basis of disability. The law imposes accessibility requirements in "places of public accommodation." This description, as it has been interpreted by U.S. courts, includes public websites.
Because the ADA (1990) predates the World Wide Web (1991), it does not mention websites, so interpretation of the law and how it should apply to websites has been left to the courts, which commonly reference version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Although the law is intended to give maximum flexibility in what accommodations are made for people with disabilities, compliance is still necessary.
If you're wondering about insurance website ADA compliance, you'll likely want to ensure your website conforms to the latest version of the WCAG (which is version 2.1 at the time of this writing) or at least to version 2.0, which is older but is what the courts commonly reference. For an overview, check out the official WCAG quick reference. If you'd rather have this taken care of for you, consider getting a new website from a provider that offers accessible websites (like us).
Technology evolves in a never-ending march, and we do our best to keep up with the accessibility implications of recent changes. We re-evauluate our website templates periodically to look for opportunities for improvement, and we're also receptive and eager to hear about ways we can make our websites more accessible.
If you have any comments or suggestions for this website or any others we manage, whether you're a customer, an impacted person, or simply want to be helpful, please get in touch. You can email us at hi [at] banyantheory [dot] com or send us a message on our contact page.