Web Accessibility: Building an inclusive IR website

7 March 2017

By Amy Simmonds

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently 56.7 million – or nearly one in five Americans – who live with some form of disability. One third of the total U.S. workforce are also beginning to experience age-related disabilities — “a group that may number 115 million by 2020.”

When we think of accessibility for people with disabilities, we often think of physical spaces such as public buildings, offices, or restaurants; however, the importance of an accessible website is often forgotten. Technology continues to evolve and become more powerful and complex, but, even so, people with disabilities still face difficulties navigating the web.

Accessible websites are coded in a way that accommodates adaptive or assistive technologies — such as voice recognition programs, screen readers and screen enlargement applications — ensuring that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact and contribute to the web easily and with little limitations. Here are some of the key best practices to ensuring your website is accessible to people with disabilities.


Building an inclusive website

As a public company, it’s important to offer an accessible online experience so that all current and potential investors have access to your content, and gain an understanding of your corporate values. Public company Detour Gold’s sustainability website provides a fully accessible experience that all IROs should take into consideration when building or updating their IR website. A user can:

  • Navigate the site using only the keyboard, enabling visually impaired users, or users with motor disabilities, to navigate easily from page to page
  • Better understand content placement through the use of bold headlines and colour scheme, for high-contrast between the foreground and the background, providing a more accessible experience for users who are visually impaired

 

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Large, bold headlines help users understand where they are on the website.

  • Have an easy-to-read experience with easily identifiable links and buttons, and the use of clear headings and spacing to group related content
  • Consume graphics in multiple ways with the use of description text along images
  • Experience videos by setting them to play automatically, and with no sound, to allow users who are visually and hearing impaired to consume content without any obstacles, such as locating sound controls or small play/pause buttons

 

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Videos play automatically to allow users to consume content without any obstacles.

The future of accessible websites

The practice of making a website accessible to people with disabilities is starting to be top-of-mind for many companies, and is continuing to gain increased exposure. As an IRO, you understand the importance of ensuring that your online communications are accessible to all your stakeholders, and an accessible website should be part of your strategy.

There are various standards in place to hold companies accountable for providing accessible websites, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, which states that all electronic and information technology must be accessible. In Canada, the target for making all public websites accessible is 2021. Europe has a similar deadline, and the United States are likely going to follow suit.

Regulation alone should not inspire you to implement an accessible website. An accessible website means that you’re staying ahead of trends in delivering your message in such a way that all current and potential investors can actively consume and contribute to your corporate narrative.

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