How to Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible for Everyone
September 24th, 2019 by
It’s safe to say that traffic—and gaining as much traffic flow as possible—is the major goal of anyone’s site. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of us forget about a few key demographics that depend on us to make sites, content, and social channels accessible. To put it into perspective, 360 million people have hearing disabilities and another 285 million people have visual impairments.
Some have physical limitations that make it impossible to use a mouse, while some people are prone to photosensitive seizures.
So how do we cater to as many people as possible and make our sites places of inclusion?
The tips I’ve listed below are a great way to start.
How Can I Make My Content More Accessible?
Most of these additions are minute things that we take for granted every day. Luckily, they’re also seamless and easy fixes that pack a huge punch of positive impact.
Dynamic content refers to pages, plug-ins, or other tidbits of your site that can change without forcing the page it’s on to reload. If someone is using a tool to navigate your website better, the tool may not inform the user of changes that happened on that page. This can lead to a confusing experience. Reader tools mostly scan a site as it naturally appears when it first loads, so if you use dynamic content, make sure it’s optimized.
Some visually-impaired users rely on transcribed blogs, articles, or web pages to digest your content through sound. Do some research on software that transcribes your blogs into audio clips to post to your website.
Video Transcripts and Captions
Users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can use video captions to understand what’s going on in videos, and what dialogue is said. In this scrolling era, captions are also a best practice to get people sucked into watching your videos too! Sites like Amara offer free video captioning for small projects, so it’s a great tool to get started with.
To make a PDF accessible, the original document must have a solid foundation. Some other key attributes of an accessible document include searchable text and security features that allow for screen readers. Adobe goes in-depth on what you can do and how you can do it in this great resource.
Descriptive Links and Button Text
For users that need a screen reader to navigate a website, buttons and links that say “Click Here!” don’t give a clue as to why they’re clicking this link or button. Instead, opt for descriptive phrases such as “About The Team” or “Services Offered.” This makes for a clear understanding as to where you are taking a user.
A sizeable amount of users have photosensitivity that makes it difficult to view bright colors and may even cause seizures. The rest of us would like to err on the side of caution and preserve our eyesight for as long as possible. This is why choosing your color scheme is very important, as well as making text and backgrounds easy to view and read.
Users with vision impairments benefit from text that can be zoomed in on to make it larger, and therefore easier to read. So make sure your mobile layout is capable of zoom!
How Can I Make my Website More Accessible?
Alt-Text is a screen reader’s best friend, allowing image descriptions to be read aloud to users with vision impairments. This is one reason why listing image descriptors is essential. I recently found out that you can even add these alt-texts on your Instagram and Facebook photos as well!
HTML headers should be clearly labeled to structure and organize the information, as well as instruct screen readers of that information. This assists not only users with vision impairments but also users with cognitive disabilities who may need well-structured information for extra clarity.
Tables may easily structure a page, but they also impede accessibility software from reading a page correctly. If you have information that needs to be laid out in table form, include an HTML markup that clearly defines headers and data cells so users can find the information.
How Can I Make my Social Media More Accessible?
Emojis and Emoticons
A lot of programs can read emojis, but you will need to put a space in between each one for better readability. As for emoticons, they’re read the way they’re written. So a smiley face like this “:)” will be read as “semicolon parenthesis,” and shouldn’t be used too often.
It’s hashtag time! These are a pivotal part of any Instagram campaign, and should be written in what we call Camel Case for easy reading! So when you use hashtags, make sure you #UseCamelCase instead of #regularcase.
The best practice is to refrain from abbreviating names of companies or organizations and instead spelling their name out in its entirety.
W3C: World Wide Web Consortium on Accessibility
WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Checklist
Section 508: Government standards on accessibility on the web
Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities
Color Contrast Checker
Screen Reader Simulation
Low Vision Simulation
Now, this is obviously not an exhaustive list of things to do, but it’s a good start in making the internet and your web content more accessible for a lot of users! There’s so much information available, and you can dig a little deeper with the list of resources above. If this is an initiative you’re looking to make a priority, reach out to one of our experts at Search Influence and we can help you make accessibility a reality.
Y’all Belong Here Gif