There is an unprecedented rise in the number of ways users access the web. Added to it are the gloomy numbers wherein nearly 15% of the world population are having disabilities of one thing or the other. Understanding the need for building inclusive web spaces, there were many legal litigations filed against even the prominent businesses for not making their websites accessible to everyone. Then, why is that web accessibility brushed off as a low-priority task and often overlooked by businesses?
There are misconceptions that web accessibility is not worth the efforts and quite often it comes with a trade-off wherein design aesthetics would be compromised. Well, making websites accessible is not as hard as it is perceived. Any well-established Web Design Company can help you implement web-accessibility into your website. Many of the web accessibility rules are in line with website development and SEO practices. Let’s look into some easy tips that can make websites accessible and bust some myths around accessibility.
So in this article, let’s look into what, why, and how of web accessibility.
Table of Contents
What is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility is making every website on the internet accessible to all including people with disabilities. People have different types of disabilities like visual, auditory, speech, physical impairments, cognitive disorders, neurological, etc. They rely on assistive technologies like screen readers, Braille terminals, etc. for browsing the internet. So, companies have to make some quick changes to accommodate more people around the world.Most website design companies from NYC understand this, and will be able to make your site truly web accessible.
Why do we need to make websites accessible?
Though there are a plethora of benefits, for the time being, let’s look into a few reasons.
Equal Accessibility to all.
It Expansion of your target audience.
Avoid legal lawsuits and penalties.
Brand commitment to serve everyone.
Achieve business growth by wider reach.
Search engine optimized websites.
How to make your website accessible?
1. Choose the CMS that supports Accessibility
When you are picking up a Content Management System (CMS) for building your website, make sure you pick the one that suits your accessibility needs. Platforms like Drupal, WordPress have themes or templates that make web accessibility simpler. You can verify the theme’s documentation on accessibility wherein you can find tips for creating accessible layouts for the theme. You can follow the guidelines mentioned while you select the plugins, modules, and widgets. Even elements like toolbars should be able to create accessible content via headings, accessible tools, videos with closed captioning, etc.
2. Proper usage of headings
Many people with disabilities who rely on screen readers should be able to navigate through content. Proper heading structure can provide a strategic and well-organized website that can be easily intercepted by screen readers. Make sure to pick the right semantics while choosing the headings as they do wonders for people with visual deficiencies and screen readers. Logical sectioning is imperative especially when you have content-heavy websites.
3. Use Alt text for Image tags
Screen readers can understand only the text content and hence you need to provide the alt text for images. Even for infographics or any other informative images, you need to convey the message through alt text.
4. Unique and descriptive names for the links
Whenever you include links in your content, do not use any generic content like “click here”. Use the text that properly describes where the link will take the user. A screen reader user should know where the link takes them to when they click on the link. For instance, if you are pointing to a “Contact Us” page, then “click here to talk to our representative” is not as effective as “To talk to our representative, Contact us”
5. Make your forms
A visually impaired who relies on screen readers does not have the same cues as a normal person. So, make your forms well-positioned with descriptive labels and should be able to tab through the forms while filling out the forms as they may not know that there are additional fields and hence may hit the submit button. You can even group a few fields say, for instance, name, DOB, etc. under personal information. In addition to using an asterisk symbol for mandatory fields, you need to add ARIA required as true for the screen reader purpose. The users should be alerted if there are any errors or the form is submitted without any issues.
6. Contrast Sensitivity
People with vision impairments have low color contrast sensitivity. So, while designing your web pages, ensure to have a high contrast between the foreground and background, and also avoid thin fonts. This is especially crucial for CTAs. You can try different combinations to see what works the best for them. Some combinations like green on red and vice-versa are hard to read and need to be avoided. You can also evaluate color contrasts using several tools available online.
7. Add Keyboard Navigation
Users with motor disabilities or mobility difficulties may not be able to use the mouse for accessing the content and they rely on other input devices like a keyboard. So, make your content keyboard-only for helping the users logically navigate through the site content. Multiple menus and sub-items should be made accessible with the keyboard rather than hovers over the times with a mouse. If you have a content-heavy website then let the keyboard-only users skip to the relevant portions of the pages by clicking on the anchor links.
8. Make Multimedia
If your website has multimedia elements and video which is vital for increasing user engagement, use audio description for visual parts like images, gestures, etc. which helps the blind users to understand the visual aspects. You should also provide text captioning with proper synchronization with the audio and video tracks for the users who have difficulties with hearing. These captions should be used with proper color contrasts.
9. Use ARIA roles (Only if necessary)
ARIA helps you to create dynamic and accessible content. The ARIA roles and attributes provide more context for the website accessible elements to help the users relying on assistive tools like screen readers. Adding ARIA attributes may not be sufficient for making complex widgets accessible especially for keyboard-only users. You need to set up the interactions using JS only.
You need to focus on the following most commonly used ARIA roles.
- Landmark – Used for navigation by the screen readers
- Widget – To describe interactive elements that do not have semantic HTML equivalents
- Abstract – Helps organize and streamline your documents
- Window – For creating subsections of the main document
- Document Structure – For a structural description of a section
- Live regions – To detect dynamic content changes and alert disabled users
10. Minimize the Use of Tables
Use tables only for tabular data but not for layout purposes. Screen readers find it challenging to read the tabular data in the same visual flow. Of course, screen readers will inform the users about the number of rows and columns used. Do not use tables for layouts for adding this additional verbosity as reading out the number of rows and columns is a distraction from the main content. You can use CSS for presentation purposes.
Creating accessible and universal designs is imperative for the success of a website and in turn for the business. Making your websites accessible to everyone on the web not only avoids legal lawsuits and penalties but also improves business growth. If you are looking to make your website accessible, Skynet Technologies can help your business launch a website that everyone across the globe can use everywhere.
Author: Rajesh Bhimani
Author Bio: Rajesh Bhimani is the Founder at Skynet Technologies, Website Design and Development Agency. He has 20 years of experience in Technology and Marketing industry. When he isn’t working, you can find him cooking for his family or reading some fiction. You can connect with him on Twitter.
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