If you are a website owner, you probably have heard the term “web accessibility.” The term is evolving because of the constantly changing legal landscape. However, website accessibility seems to be a significant topic for web owners which requires consideration and attention.
It is therefore recommended to take steps to make your website more accessible and open the door for people with disabilities to access the content and services provided. Accessible websites also enhance user experience and search engine optimization.
In this blog, let’s see the ways to make your website accessible to people with disabilities.
What is website accessibility?
Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of ensuring that people with disabilities can have full and equal access to information online.
Accessibility aims to cater to people of different abilities such as:
- Visual Impairment
- Physical Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Cognitive Impairment
- Learning Impairment
Website accessibility legislation
Website accessibility legislations include:
- Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Canada
- EN 301 549, the European Union standard for web accessibility
WCAG is responsible to set the accessibility criteria for the content available on the website. There are four core principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
If your website content meets all of these four core WCAG checkpoints you can, as a general rule, be pretty confident that it also meets the needs of the majority of your neurodivergent visitors.
11 easy ways to make your website more accessible
- Make sure to include the content management system that supports accessibility.
There are various content management systems available that help to create your website. Some of the popular content management systems are Word Press and Drupal.
However, several other options are also available to you. After you have selected the content management system according to your requirement, make certain to select the theme or template that is accessible. Also make sure to follow the identical guidelines when choosing widgets, plug-ins, or modules.
Additionally, content management system administration options like making a blog or posting a comment must be accessible as well for all people.
- Make sure your website is keyboard-friendly
Make sure your website can be navigated without a mouse. Every single interaction must be performed with a keyboard. This is because many assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only navigation.
For example, use the tab key to jump between the different areas of the page like forms, buttons, and links. To check that your site is keyboard-friendly, try using the tab button instead of the mouse.
- Use alt text for images
It is important to provide alternate text or descriptions for images. This helps users understand the context of the image.
People with disabilities use screen readers to read aloud the image descriptions and understand the context of the image on your website.
If an image also includes text, this should be included in the alt tag. The only exception to the rule is if an image is purely used for decoration, then the alt tag can then be left empty.
- Provide descriptive text for hyperlinks
When using links embedded in your content, use descriptive sentences to describe the action and the page it leads to.
Simply using ‘click here’ or ‘here’ isn’t really acceptable or useful to the reader. Just like sighted users scan the page for linked text, visually-impaired users can use their screen readers to scan for links.
- Use color with care
The most common issue for the visually impaired when it comes to colors on your website is the use of text on colored backgrounds.
Some basic guidelines to follow are:
- You should ideally set a light color against a dark color.
- Avoid clashing colors that could induce eye strain.
- Use tools such as Contrast Checker to check your site for issues.
People with color blindness disabilities can interpret colors differently and the most common form of color deficiency is a red-green color deficiency. So if you find yourself using these colors predominantly, some of your users may be at a disadvantage.
- Design forms with accessibility in mind
Online forms such as contact forms are common on websites. A sighted user can easily fill out these forms. But to an unsighted user using a screen reader, the forms are inaccessible without descriptions.
Use accurate form labels and placeholder text to enable screen readers to read out the input required from a person with a disability.
- Use ARIA roles and landmarks only when necessary
ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Application. It is a complex specification to include information for elements that are not natively accessible. But it is important to use native HTML elements when they are available.
Remember, ARIA does nothing for keyboard-only users, it only influences people who use assistive technology.
- Create dynamic accessible content
When the content updates dynamically, the screen reader may not be aware. This includes in-page updates, light boxes, screen overlays, and modal dialogs. The users using the keyboard-only can get trapped in the page overlays.
Make sure that video players do not auto-play and such players can be used with the keyboard. Along with such, all videos must include the option for transcript and closed captioning for people with hearing impairment. If your site includes the slideshow, make certain that each photo includes the alt text.
- Enable resizeable text
Every device from your Smartphone to tablet to desktop facilitates the user to resize text. This helps users with visual impairments.
Test your font sizes by increasing the zoom level in your own browser. If you notice that content becomes difficult to read or navigate, you should make some changes.
- Make video content accessible
Add closed captions and transcripts to videos to help people with hearing impairments. Captions must be properly synchronized with content. They must be accessible on a variety of devices.
- Don’t use content that auto-plays or flashes
If you are have a background video, make sure to include the play/ pause button. This helps people to select whether it plays or not. Disable any content that flashes more than three times per second. Flashing elements can cause seizures in some people with cognitive disabilities.
Having an accessible website enables people with disabilities to have access to information. Following some of these guidelines can help make your website accessible to visitors with disabilities.