What is A11Y?

What is a11y

Have you ever struggled using a website or mobile app because it was difficult to navigate, confusing, or impossible to interact with? If you have, you have likely encountered a website lacking accessibility. “A11y” means (pronounced as a double one y) for accessibility, representing the inclusion and usability of digital products for individuals with visual and cognitive impairments. a11y accessibility is a crucial aspect of web development and design, ensuring that everyone can use digital content, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Let’s dive into what a11y involves and why it’s essential in today’s online landscape.

What Is the Meaning of A11Y?

A11Y is shorthand for “accessibility”.

Here’s a breakdown of the term:

  • a: Represents the first letter of “accessible”
  • 11: Represents the number of letters between the first “a” and the last “y” in “accessibility”
  • y: Represents the last letter of “accessibility”

This term is crucial in web development and design. It ensures access and usability for all, regardless of abilities.

a11y (accessibility) aims to make digital products and services accessible and usable for everyone, including those with visual and cognitive impairments. The ultimate goal is to ensure equal opportunities and access for all, regardless of impairments.

What is A11Y Compliance?

A11Y compliance refers to following accessibility standards and guidelines to ensure digital content is accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities. Achieving A11Y compliance involves conforming to various regulations and standards.

Section 508

Section 508 is a US federal law requiring accessibility for federally funded websites and electronic information technology for individuals with visual and cognitive impairments. 

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)

WCAG is an internationally recognized set of guidelines for making web content more accessible to a wide range of people with visual and cognitive impairments.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

ADA mandates that certain businesses and organizations provide accessible accommodations for individuals with visual and cognitive impairments.

What are the A11Y Components? 

A well-designed website or mobile application takes into account various accessibility components to serve a diverse user base. Here are some key aspects to consider accessibility a11y compliant:

  • Semantic code: Using HTML elements that clearly describe their content for assistive technologies like screen readers.
  • Keyboard navigation: Enabling users to navigate the application solely with a keyboard.
  • Alternative text: Providing descriptions for images to convey their meaning to screen reader users.
  • Headings: Structuring content with clear and logical headings to improve navigation.
  • Lists: Utilizing ordered and unordered lists to organize content for easier comprehension.
  • Form controls: Designing accessible forms with clear labels, error messages, and keyboard functionality.
  • Tables: Ensuring tables have proper structure and captions for screen reader users.
  • Multimedia: Providing captions and transcripts for video and audio content.

A11Y Checklist for Web & Mobile Applications

Here’s a quick a11y checklist to get you started on making your web and mobile applications more accessible. 

  • Content: Use simple and straightforward language and arrange the information in a logical structure.
  • Global code: Ensure proper keyboard navigation and focus management throughout the application.
  • Images: Include descriptive alt text for all images.
  • Headings: Use headings hierarchically to organize content.
  • Lists: Utilize ordered and unordered lists appropriately.
  • Controls: Design accessible buttons, links, and other interactive elements.
  • Tables: Structure tables with headers and captions for screen readers.
  • Forms: Create clear and accessible forms with proper labeling and error handling.
  • Media: Provide captions and/or transcripts for all video and audio content.
  • Appearance: Maintain sufficient color contrast for optimal readability.
  • Animation: Avoid animations that may cause seizures or disorientation.
  • Mobile and touch: Optimize the application for touch interactions and screen reader use on mobile devices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s essential to recognize that accessibility (a11y) transcends geographical boundaries and specific regulations like WCAG and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Instead, it represents a global effort aimed at enhancing the accessibility of web content and computers worldwide.

For a comprehensive approach to accessibility, explore Continual Engine’s accessibility testing solutions. We can help you build equitable and successful digital experiences.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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