There are many aspects to consider when creating a website. Most people are aware of the importance of a good design, user experience, or SEO. But have you thought about optimizing your website for handicapped users?
Millions of people rely on web accessibility features to comfortably use the internet despite their disability. However, these features benefit users without disabilities as well. Think about older people, users with smaller screens, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, or even users with slower internet connections.
While in the USA, accessibility is required by law for all websites, similar legislation in the EU enforces accessibility only for public services. However, you should pay attention to website accessibility regardless of the legislation. Not only will it make your website accessible to millions of people, but it will also help your search engine rank. So, how to get started with this?
There are many ways to make your website more optimized for users with disabilities. Fortunately, on the internet, you can find many materials and tools to help you get the job done. If web accessibility is new to you, here are some key areas to focus on.
Many users navigate through your website using the keyboard only. The most common way is using the Tab button, which should navigate between key elements on a page, such as links, buttons, or form fields. Furthermore, it is important to highlight the active element using a well-visible outline. Additionally, you should avoid vague link titles such as “click here”, as some reading devices will only read the link description and ignore the text leading up to the link. Reading devices might also struggle with dynamic content. They might only consider content that is on a page when it first loads and ignore anything that comes at a later stage. Luckily, there are tools that will help you work around this issue, such as ARIA Landmarks.
Do not omit alternative text when adding images. For your visually impaired audience, this is absolutely crucial. You should also be mindful of the color combinations that you use. Is the color of your text contrastive enough compared to the background? Would your colorful pie chart still be understandable if it was black and white? Another important feature to have on your website is the option to change text size. However, it is crucial to implement this option in a way that resizing text will not break your design completely. Lastly, avoid media content that starts unpromptedly, such as videos or flashy carousels. These tend to be unpleasant for any user, but even more so for someone with a disability.
There are also certain rules that you should follow while writing content. Firstly, write out acronyms and make sure to keep all your links unique. Secondly, use headers in the right way to give your text structure and make it easier to digest. Thirdly, if you are using tables, make sure to keep them as simple as possible. You should also avoid using tables for anything that is not tabular data, such as lists. This might be confusing for reading devices. Lastly, if you are using forms, make sure to properly label them in a way that is understandable both for the human eye as well as for a reading device.
Thanks to various tools available online, it is relatively easy to check and improve the accessibility of your website. It is also fairly easy to implement at least some accessibility features, which will bring you many benefits. Not only will your users be thankful, but you will also be able to reach a significantly bigger audience.
On the 8th of June 2021, we ran an accessibility test of our site via WebAccessibility.com. The compliance score we reached is 78%. In total, 23 violations were detected. These violations were found in parts of the website’s code, which were not optimized for the assistive technology used by disabled users.
Conclusion: As we attach great importance to web accessibility, we immediately reached out to our developer to fix these violations. If you are interested in knowing how accessible is your website, you may perform the free test at WebAccessibility.com.
Read further: News, product content, web accessibility
Online Marketing Coordinator at Icecat N.V.
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