Understanding Site Accessibility: Why Operability Is Important

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By Patrice Meadows — Mar 22, 2018 11:00 AM

Understanding Site Accessibility: Why Operability Is Important

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines requires content to be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust to be considered accessible. This series of blog posts examines the four principles of accessibility to help end-users understand what they can do to make sites more accessible. The previous entry in this series explained perceivability, in today’s blog post we’ll discuss operability.

What makes sites operable?

Offering various ways for users to navigate sites is the essence of operability. The principle of operability requires organizations to provide reasonable accommodations for users of varying abilities with navigation. Several guidelines explain what organizations must offer to meet the standards outlined in this principle.

What does operability include?

Providing users the tools they need to easily move through sites is an essential element of site accessibility. Organizations must meet each of the following guidelines to comply with this principle. Let’s learn more about each one.

Keyboard accessibility: All navigation functions must be controllable with keyboards. People often assume that users will combine scrolling with keystrokes to navigate sites, but this is not an option for certain users. As a result, designers must offer alternative methods to help users move through sites.
Timing: For time-dependent content, users must have adequate time to review, digest, and respond to information before moving forward. Similarly, these sites must allow users to disable, adjust, or extend time-dependent features. For more information on this guideline, review guideline 2.2 of the WCAG 2.0.
Seizures: Persistent flashing or other repetitive light displays can cause seizures in certain individuals. Designers should not display content in seizure-inducing formats. According to the WCAG 2.0, any page that contains content that flashes more than three times in any one second period violates this guideline.
Navigable: Often, using keyboards or assistive technologies for navigation means stopping at every page element before finding relevant information. This approach offers a suboptimal experience, which is why companies must offer easy ways to navigate sites and pages. There are several specific guidelines that dictate what organizations must offer to make sites fully-navigable.

Why is operability important?

Even the best content is of little use without the tools needed to navigate it; that is why operability is so important. Just as it is essential to provide multiple versions of the same content to accommodate various users, it’s also critical to offer multiple options for manipulation. The principle of operability helps users explore content in ways that work for them.

How do you help users operate your site? Share your best practices below or tweet your story @hannon_hill.

Don’t forget to come back next week to learn more about making content understandable. You can also subscribe to our blog to get the latest posts delivered automatically.