A11Y is a general term used across social media, the tech industry, and academia. It is not just a term that describes web accessibility — it is a global idea, movement, and aspiration to create technology that is accessible to everyone. The A11Y movement strives to make the digital world more accessible by raising awareness, educating people, and advocating for better design practices.
If certain elements on a website are not properly adjusted, people with disabilities may struggle to use it or be unable to access it altogether. 1.3 billion people have a disability and many rely on their mobile and desktop devices to order food, communicate with friends, family, and caretakers, manage their finances, and commute to and from work.
"A11Y" is also used by members of the global A11Y community in relation to the process of auditing a website for universal accessibility. Developers and web designers often adopt a standardized assessment process for digital products, using A11Y Command-line Tools, such as accessScan, to identify and address areas within a website or application that pose accessibility challenges.
To make mobile and web apps accessible, they should be compatible with assistive technology, such as screen readers (like NVDA and JAWS), speech recognition software, and adaptive switches. They must also be designed for maximum inclusivity and for the widest possible audience, which includes people with dyslexia, migraines, cognitive disabilities, color blindness, and limited mobility.
Despite being strongly associated with web accessibility, A11Y is viewed by many as having a broader application. Members of the disability community often face barriers when attempting to simply engage with a PC or desktop computer, even when performing more basic functions than browsing the internet. Therefore, many believe that A11Y should account for other software and hardware components that can prove challenging for people with certain disabilities. Proponents of this viewpoint call for the redesigning of hardware and other peripherals necessary to operate a computer system that was built without the unique needs of the disability community in mind.