Is your website geared for all abilities?
When we say ‘disability’, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Do you think of a visually impaired (or blind) person, or perhaps you know somebody who is deaf? You would be right in your thinking, but there is a bit more to this term when it comes to the matter of website accessibility.
What is accessibility?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) states that:
“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them”.
The mission of W3C is to “make the web available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.’’
Factors influencing accessibility
Accessibility encompasses a broad range of issues that affect access to the web – from disabilities, including temporary disabilities, to situational limitations, and issues with technology or the Internet.
Blindness and other visual impairments including cataract, glaucoma, and colorblindness can all affect how well users are able to access the web.
There are a diverse range of hearing impairments that can affect web accessibility, from profound deafness to loss of hearing in old age.
This can involve issues with memory, language, thinking, and judgement, which can all affect web navigation.
Mobility and physical impairments can prevent users from easily browsing the web or inputting data.
Further web accessibility issues include:
Broken bones, lost glasses, tiredness, this list is endless!
Bright sunlight, time restrictions, a situation where you can’t listen to audio, etc.
Mobiles, smartwatches, and other devices with small screens or using old technology, as well as assistive technology including screen readers and speech operated software, all alter a user’s web experience.
Slow internet, poor connection, or limited bandwidth quickly restricts web accessibility.
From an ethical, legal and business perspective it makes sense to pay close attention to accessibility, which has become a specialist field.
There are however some practical tips to ensure you make your website more accessible right away:
Add alt text to all images
Alternative text replaces the image if an image fails to load. However, it is also used by screen readers to help users ‘read’ the image. Therefore, when filling out the alt text, make sure it clearly describes the graphic.
Give links unique and descriptive names
Links should always be underlined and given a meaningful name so screen readers can easily identify the links within the content.
Provide captions for videos and transcripts for audio
Captions, transcripts, and other text alternatives for video and audio on your site will ensure that users with visual and auditory impairments can still access the content.
Choose colours carefully
Make sure the colours on your site contrast well so it is possible for everyone to distinguish between different content elements on your page. It is also important not to use colour alone to convey information. For example, a form that uses color to identify a required field should also use some other kind of indicator (such as an asterisk) so all users can see which fields are required for form submission.
Use tables for tabular data, not for layout
Tables used for layout purposes can cause confusion for visitors using screen readers. Limit table use to data only, and follow these W3C Table Guidelines.
Use an accessible form builder
It is essential that the forms on your website are accessible to all your visitors, enabling users to get in contact, sign up to a service, purchase products, and any other action that includes entering their data and submitting a form. Using a form builder that has the functionality to allow you to create accessible forms is a must for all websites.
You can view our form product offering here.