You have the best restaurant in a retirement community, but your restaurant is perched high above the parking lot and is accessed only by a set of 12 stairs. With no ramp or elevator, many of your potential customers will be unable to enjoy the excellent food you offer.

That’s no good for anyone.

You don’t want to exclude customers. It’s bad for business, and it’s bad for your brand.

But that’s exactly what your website may be doing. The solution is to use accessibility features to “open the doors” to everyone.

Accessibility features also help improve your SEO, reduce your website complexity, and increase your ability to connect with your loyal audience.

But accessibility standards aren’t always baked into the architecture of websites.

Luckily, there are some content management systems (CMS) that let you create hyper-accessible websites without even trying. Drupal comes equipped with a variety of accessibility features, each of which helps make your website more accessible for your customers.

The Importance of Website Accessibility

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the global standard for web accessibility used by companies, governments, and merchants across the world.

Following the WCAG standard helps you reach a wider audience. And it also keeps you out of legal hot water. Not only has the ADA made it abundantly clear that compliance requires website accessibility. A United States District Court in Florida ruled that WCAG standards are the de facto standards of web accessibility. And there are already cases of businesses getting sued for failing to adhere to them.

Adhering to WCAG web accessibility standards helps protect your brand against litigation. But, more importantly, it opens doors to millions of customers who need accessibility to navigate and engage with your amazing content.

Web accessibility touches all of those types of disabilities:

·      For those with trouble seeing, screen readers help them comprehend websites.

·      Those with mobility issues may need to use keyboard shortcuts to help them navigate your website.

·      Hearing-impaired individuals may require subtitles and captions.

·      Those with cognitive issues may need your website to be built with focusable elements and good contrasting.

There are many disabilities. WCAG creates a unified guideline that helps government entities and businesses build websites that are accessible to people with a wide range of these disabilities.

Drupal is WCAG-compliant

Creating an accessible website doesn’t have to be a time-consuming and expensive process. Drupal has an entire team dedicated to ensuring that their platform is WCAG compliant. In fact, Drupal is both WCAG 2.0 compliant and Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 2.0) compliant. The latter deals with the tools developers use to build websites. So, Drupal has accessibility compliance on both ends.

Drupal has Built-in Compliance Features

Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 come native with semantic markup. To keep things simple, semantic markup helps clarify the context of content. When people use screen readers or other assistive technology, that CSS goes out-of-the-window. They’re looking at the core HTML markup. And if it’s not semantic, they may have a difficult time navigating it.

With Drupal, markup is automatically semantic, which means comprehension for translation engines, search engines, and screen readers.

Drupal’s accessibility page also notes some core changes made to increase accessibility. These include things such as color contrasting. WCAG requires that color contrasting be at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 7:1 for enhanced contrast. Drupal complies with those guidelines. Many other changes are on the developer side, such as drag and drop functions and automated navigation buttons.

Of course, Drupal also provides developer handbooks, theming guides, and instructional PDFs for developers. Some of the accessibility is done on the developer’s end, so it’s important to work with a developer who leverages accessibility during their design process.

Drupal’s Support for the Accessibility Community

In addition to following WCAG guidelines, Drupal supports community-driven modules that add additional accessibility support. Here are a few examples of Drupal modules that focus on accessibility:

Automatic Alt text: It automatically generates an alternative text for images when no alt text has been provided by the user.

Block ARIA Landmark Roles: It adds additional elements to the block configuration forms that allow users to assign an ARIA landmark role to a block.

CKEditor Abbreviation : It adds a button to CKEditor which helps in inserting and editing abbreviations in a given text.

CKEditor Accessibility Checker: It enables the Accessibility Checker plugin in your WYSIWYG editor, which then helps inspect the content accessibility level; and solve them.

High Contrast: It allows the user to quickly switch between the active theme and a high contrast version of it.

htmLawed: It utilizes the htmLawed PHP library to limit and filter HTML for consistency with site administrator policy and standards and for security.

Style Switcher: Themers can provide a theme with alternate stylesheets. Allowing special styling for some part of the site, the module presents all those styles as a block with links. So any site user is able to choose the style of the site he/she prefers.

Text Resize: It provides the end-users with a block for changing the font size of text on your Drupal site.

Accessibility: It gives a list of available Accessibility tests, aligned to guidelines like WCAG 2.0 or Section 508.

By some estimates, up to 98 percent of the web does not comply with accessibility standards, so we all have a long way to go, but we have start to finish. Accessibility is a feature that sets Drupal apart from the majority of the web and development firms like New Target can implement them for your organization. 

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