Why The Technology You Use On Your Website Is An Important Accessibility Factor
When it comes to accessibility in the design of a website, most people wrongly assume this relates only to making a site easy to use for people with disabilities. While it is important, and in some cases a legal requirement, to do things in your design that make it possible for users with things like hearing and sight problems to use your website, for example by avoiding text and background colour combinations that make your information hard to read for colour blind people, and providing text to accompany any audio or video information, accessibility policies also need to take into account the technical limitations your users may have.
One of the first things you need to ensure when you are testing the accessibility of your new site is that it works properly on all of the browsers your target audience is likely to be using. You can’t realistically test on every browser, but it is a good idea to check the current market share of different browser versions and test on those most in use – this doesn’t just mean testing on Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE, but also on the most commonly used versions of these – major versions of IE for instance, have significant differences in how they handle certain web technologies. Of course, as part of any of your testing it also goes without saying you should test on mobile devices, to also ensure your site displays and works properly on tablets and phones and their own versions of the browsers.
Another thing your users may have to contend with is slow network speeds. If your page uses a lot of things that could be slow to load, you need to test that the most important things load quickly. This is a good reason for having a lot of your information displayed as normal text rather than text that is part of an image (though there are lots of other accessibility reasons to do this too, like making it possible for blind people to use a screen reader on your content). It is also a good reason not to have sound or video that automatically play.
When it comes to your mobile users, while they may have the technology and network speed to use higher data elements on a website quickly, they actually may not want to because of limitations on their tariffs for how much data they can use in a month. While if a user is locked in to a network that offers expensive or low data limits, they do have the option to unlock their phone using a service like unlockingsmart.co.uk,most people prefer to use as little of their data allowance as possible for normal browsing, so again, it is a good idea to provide information in normal text format instead of, or as well as, anything more data intensive, and to avoid having anything data intensive run automatically when they visit.
Making your site as friendly as possible to people with technological limitations like slow network speeds or data limits is a good idea if you want happy, satisfied users!