Disability symbols

Could your business be missing out on an estimated $1 trillion market?

$1 trillion – $200 billion alone in discretionary spending – that’s what Fortune Magazine estimates the community of disabled people represent, 55 million people in the U.S. and approximately 1 billion people worldwide.  It is the largest minority group.

Many of these people use the web differently from the average user.  Many use assistive technologies to navigate the web, and in order for a site to be accessible it must include the features these technologies rely on.

Could your website’s design be inadvertently excluding people with disabilities?

A quick test of your site’s level of accessibility
Here are three basic things to check in the next week to gauge how accessible your site is (and reminders to help you actually do it – just click the Remind Me button and sign in to set up an automatic reminder to get this done):

1. Make sure all images on your site have alt-text tags.

People using screen readers don’t see images, so make sure the the alt-text of each image is descriptive – particularly if the image itself contains text.

2. Make sure that each field on every forms on your site is properly labelled.

Without labels, forms will not be viewable on screen readers.

3. Make sure your site can be navigated using only a keyboard.

Not everyone uses a touchpad or mouse, so make sure there aren’t any features on your site which require them.

Accessibility testing with Loop11

The three checks above are a good place to start but really, there’s so much more to test to ensure your site is truly accessible.  Each type of disability has its own technology access needs, and each assistive technology has its own requirements and limitations.

Through our partnership with Knowbility – a non-profit organization focused on increasing technology accessibility to the disabled community – Loop11 now offers an easy and affordable way to do comprehensive accessibility testing.

AccessWorks, an extensive database of web-users with disabilities created and managed by Knowbility, reflects a spectrum of visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments. Loop11 customers can now tap into the AccessWorks database for all accessibility testing needs, saving time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting participants for face-to-face testing.

Testing for accessibility issues with Loop11 is simple. When a customer chooses to conduct accessibility testing, they will be prompted to select criteria from a custom panel. Knowbility then pulls participants from AccessWorks to form a group that fits these requirements. Through an email sent by Knowbility, these new participants will have instant access to a tailor-made web-based accessibility evaluation. Next, as participants begin test-taking, Loop11 customers can take advantage of quantitative feedback and real-time monitoring by checking out results instantly.

Case Study

For a recent project, Knowbility crafted an extensive accessibility test using Loop11 and recruiting from the AccessWorks database. The recruited participants reflected two forms of visual impairment (low vision and legal blindness), a cognitive disability (traumatic brain injury) and motor disability (amputee).

They explored a university’s website through 19 tasks. Some used assistive technologies like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and adaptive technology for motor impairments.

The test unearthed a few barriers for mobility-impaired and visually-impaired users.

Results showed that the site could benefit from various improvements – some small, some great. The three main accessibility problems were encountered with keyboard use and screen readers.

Firstly, dropdown menus were inaccessible via keyboard use, which many visually and motor impaired participants use to navigate. Next, a problem with keyboard focus was discovered. Some interactive elements correctly lit up; others did not.

Also a lack of headings made for tedious, time-consuming navigation for those with screen readers. Instead of being able to skip through various sections of content, participants had no choice but to listen to entire pages of content in order to find what they needed.

Web accessibility: Worth looking into

The number of people living with disabilities is only going to grow.  How accessible is your site to this market?  Test and find out.

For more info on web accessibility, watch our recent webinar on accessibility and usability testing with our CEO Toby Biddle and Knowbility Executive Director Sharron Rush: