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    Accessibility Meets Usability on World Usability Day

    by Jason Taylor
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    Join us for a for World Usability Day Webinar on November 14, 2019- Save your seat now

    In recent years, due to a rise in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III lawsuits, Web and App accessibility has started to receive the attention it deserves. However, more and more, compliance is framed as a score to be achieved and this can miss the true goal accessibility - the ability for all visitors to easily access and use your Website. While technical standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), can be valuable, nothing can replace real-world testing to establish true usability.This year's theme for World Usability Day is "Design for the future we want." According to the official Website, goals are "inspired by the United Nation’s (UN’s) 17 Sustainable Development goals. These goals provide a road map of a future that we could be seeking to attain."

    Read more about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

    It's easy to see that technology will continue to play a substantial role in our everyday lives in the future. Here at UsableNet, we hope that also means a more accessible and inclusive digital world for people of all abilities. 

    For World Usability Day, we explore the intersection of accessibility and usability and how a balanced focus on each can provide a more inclusive future. 

    The subject of accessibility vs. usability has always been intertwined and discussed for more than twenty years. In 2004,  Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, asserted that,

     “A strict focus on accessibility as a scorecard item doesn't always help users with disabilities. To help these users accomplish critical tasks, you must adopt a usability perspective.” The true goal of website accessibility should be to ensure that people using assisstive technology can complete crucial tasks as easily as all other users.

    Accessibility meets Usability

    A website might be accessible according to the guidelines established by WCAG, but it must also be usable. Usability is tied to the quality, satisfaction, and efficiency a person experiences when engaging with your website. 

    What Is Accessibility?

    The standards established by WCAG are technical and ensure that the code that drives your website can be accessed by assistive technology, such as screen reader used by people with visual disabilities.

    According to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative, the goal of website accessibility is to guarantee that people of all abilities, including those with impairments related to age (e.g., vision loss), can “perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools.” Essentially, accessibility means that assistive technology users can read and interact with each element on a Web page. However, because WCAG deals primarily with website structure, it does little to establish standards that pertain to the experience of the person trying to book a flight, make a bank transfer, sign up for a college course, or buy a pair of shoes.

    What Is Usability?

    While accessibility relates to the technical side of a website, usability relates to the quality of a person’s experience, the efficiency with which that person can accomplish a task, and the satisfaction of the person completing the task. Although accessibility guidelines focus primarily on people with disabilities, many of the guidelines for accessibility can also make a Website more usable for everyone. 

    At the end of the day, if you can not access a website if you can not use it, one is a prerequisite for the other.  A website that is both usable and accessible, much like a more inclusive future, benefits everyone. To hear us speak more on this topic including actionable best practices, join us for a free World Usability Day Webinar. 

    On November 14th,  World Usability Day 2019 UsableNet will support one of our web agency partners Surfcode during a Free Webinar on CMS Accessibility Best Practices at 12 pm ET

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