Accessibility on the web


What we now know as the internet started as an academic research project in 1969, and later became a global commercial network in the 1990’s. These days most of our social interactions are done in an online environment on the internet. The internet has become our main source of information and communication. A place where we can associate and express ourselves. The internet has quickly become one of the core pillars of the modern information society with Northern Europe ranking first with a 95% internet penetration rate among the population.

The internet is used by many people around the world, and has become quite indispensable in our daily lives. To put that in context with some statistics:
As of January 2021 there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide – 59.5 percent of the global population. Of this total, 92.6 percent (4.32 billion) accessed the internet via mobile devices. ~ Published by Joseph Johnson, Sep 10, 2021

The internet is a place for everyone, and thus should be accessible for everyone.
In the United States for example, to ensure that the web is accessible to everyone, there is the Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the activities of public accommodations.” This law was enacted primarily to focus on obstacles at physical locations (like wheelchair accessible entrances at the library of police station for example), it is being applied to websites and apps as well. This law applies of course to the United States, but this is not to say that we in Europe should not take note of this as the internet is a global place.


So what is accessibility?

“Accessibility is the practice of making your websites usable by as many people as possible”
~ Mozilla:

When we think of making websites accessible, we might think of making them easier to use for people who are, for example, blind or have trouble reading.
But this is a very narrow interpretation of making your website more accessible as there are loads more ways we can help in making the web more accessible.

There are many kinds of disabilities that make it harder for people to access and use your website, which is important to take into consideration since we want to reach as many people as possible.

Types of accessibility impairments

Some of the most common impairments and disabilities include:

  • Visual impairments; such as being blind or troubles with distance and near presenting vision.
  • Hearing impairment; partial or total inability to hear.
  • Mobility impairments; disabilities that affect movement ranging from gross motor skills, like walking, to fine motor movements like typing.
  • Cognitive impairments; when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. Cognitive impairment also includes dyslexia for example.

When thinking of disabilities we often think of them as uncommon, or even rare, but quite the opposite is true! To have a better perspective on this we can take a quick look at some of the data from “European comparative data on Europe 2020 and persons with disabilities”. This is a report written by S. Grammenos for the European Commission.
In this report it is stated that in the 27 members of the EU, in 2018, about 24.5% of persons aged 16 and over declared a disability (activity limitation). This accounts for about 87 million people aged 16 and over living in private households. However, as the author of the report notes, we need to interpret this number with caution as it includes elderly people with moderate or severe disabilities and that this number is also to be seen as a target for prevention purposes.

A different take on showing how relevant and important accessibility is, is Microsoft developed Inclusive Design.

Inclusive Design is a methodology, born out of digital environments, that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. Most importantly, this means including and learning from people with a range of perspectives. ~

Part of the developed guidelines for Inclusive Design is the Persona Spectrum. The Persona Spectrum shows us how the different types of impairments can be classified in Permanent, Temporary and Situational disability scenarios. When we take a look at the different scenarios we can come to the conclusion that everybody at one point in their lives will experience some type of disability or impairment.

There is a common misconception that when you spend more time and effort on making your website, or product, more accessible to those people who experience some form of disability you only do it for a very small group of people. With the numbers from the report and reasoning behind Inclusive Design, we can start to see how common and wide disabilities range and that putting in more effort on making your website or product is worth the effort.

The Persona Spectrum from Microsoft’s Inclusive Design

How can we contribute to a more accessible web?

There are many ways we can contribute to a more accessible web, for example Microsoft has written a lot about their Inclusive Design and how we can help.
There are also many guidelines written by the Web Accessibility Initiative from the World Wide Web Consortium which we can follow to make the web a more inclusive and accessible place.

For example, one of these guidelines for aiding the visually impaired is to have the text contrast ratio set to a 7:1 for an optimal reading experience, but with technologies evolving there are also very good Text-to-Speech programs now that will read the content of a page or article out loud.
Another feature we also see popping up more recently is the possibility to add an alt-text to images when uploading them to Instagram.

At Instance Studio we do our best to contribute to a more accessible web, we think that the work we do is valuable for lots of people and we want to reach as many people as possible.
We work according to our four core pillars:

  • Perceivable: Users must be able to perceive it in some way, using one or more of their senses.
  • Operable: Users must be able to control the User Interface elements (e.g. buttons must be clickable in some way — mouse, keyboard, voice command, etc.).
  • Understandable: The content must be understandable to its users.
  • Robust: The content must be developed using well-adopted web standards that will work across different browsers, now and in the future.

Introdans accessibility panel

With the guidelines mentioned here and a focus on the WGAC guidelines, we are confident we can deliver on your accessibility requirements.

For one project in particular (Introdans) we made some intensive additions to the accessibility of their new website. We developed an accessibility panel where we integrated options such as a text reader, special contrast modes and also the option to increase the font sizes to cater to the needs of the users.



Making the web more inclusive and accessible not only helps those who have impairments or those who experience difficulties. As everyone in their life will experience some sort of impairment, be it temporary, situational or permanent. Contributing to a more accessible web will help everyone.

At Instance Studio we think there is a lot of value in making the web more accessible and it is a way for us to help the web become a better place, one step at a time.


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