Besides the legal requirements and various legal actions being taken in the space, none of which you should actually be afraid of if your intentions are good, there are several practical reason why Web Accessibility is going to be such a huge concern in 2023 and moving forward.
Technology is taking us on a journey, and it doesn’t care if we are ready
“Why can’t it be like it used to be?” The sentiment is often uttered. It continues, “We didn’t have to worry about all this before, isn’t it just complicating things? No one talks to each other anymore!”
Nostalgia can be nice, if consumed in moderation. The truth is, more people are talking to each other than ever. Barriers to communication, let alone camaraderie, are crumbling under the weight of technology. These walls are being toppled to build bridges and dig tunnels to connect civilizations together. The current generation is more aware than ever, and they are about to take the reigns.
Technology is making it easier for us to communicate with each other in more ways than some may realize. The markup languages used to build sites are getting better all the time, making it easier for assistive devices to read the information for the user. AI, Artificial Intelligence, is getting pretty tangible. It can read images and create alt text for the blind, non-sighted, or those with low vision.
While it is still important to hire live transcription for certain content and events, natural language processing makes it a lot easier to get very close to proper transcriptions and closed captions for recorded audio and video. This can also be applied to scanned documents and PDFs.
Awareness about Web Accessibility is significant
The aforementioned, extremely public and high-status lawsuits aside, website users today care more about overall usability in general and are demanding Accessibility for All. Thankfully, we are a long way from the draconian days of casual disabled exclusion in workplaces and public spaces for which there was a significant public demonstration. We have seen good examples of architecture making accessibility look good.
Potential customers will be less impressed with color palettes and motion graphics that aren’t accessible to people with low-vision or even dangerous for people with neurological imbalances. It’s never been easier to air these infractions on public forums, so there are plenty of examples.
Search Engines Care
The major search engines do indeed care if the results it provides are returning accessible websites. They can check, because technology allows it to look at the hierarchy and determine if it is correct, colors to make sure they are paired correctly, and that the layout does not shift too much.
In 2023, it should not need to be stated how important it is to play nice with search engines. Our society relies on search engines. If the search engines don’t recommend a site, it might as well not exist.
Technology Standards change almost as quickly as technology itself
W3’s Web Accessibility Initiative updates the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) pretty regularly, and there are updates on their way. https://www.w3.org/WAI/update/
As a community, we all need to stay up-to-date with these standards. Accessibility is good for everyone. Following the guidelines helps us all be better developers, designers, content creators, and business owners.
Post your Accessibility Statement and make it part of your professional culture: https://www.w3.org/WAI/planning/statements/generator/#create