Web Design and Development – Increasing Your Website’s Accessibility
Although there are millions of websites out there, there are many that are not accessible. That is, they are not able to be experienced by those having physical challenges. The goal for any website, according to the experts, should be accessibility regardless of the visitor’s level of experience or disability. When a website is accessible, all users have equal access not only to the information of a website, but to its functions as well.
Common Misunderstandings with Website Accessibility
While it may seem easier to just design your site without accessibility in mind, it isn’t a difficult task to build an accessible website or make an existing site more accessible to those with physical impairments. There are resources online which can actually validate the accessibility of an existing web page. In just a few minutes, you can know what parts of your site’s code need updating, and often, which browsers your site is fully compatible with.
Not having a description with the images on a website is one of the most common and most easily fixable accessibility errors. For those who use screen readers, an ALT tag can provide them with information about the image, so that they can get a clearer picture of what your site is about overall.
Descriptive text can also be very beneficial if placed in audio and video files, making them accessible to a wider physically-challenged audience. However, more than those using screen readers should be considered. After all, people with other challenges, such as cognitive and motor issues will also be visiting your site.
Ways to Make Your Site More Accessible for All
As far as online video is concerned, accessibility can be increased by including a transcript of the video. This will involve adding subtitles as video production occurs. If the video has yet to be produced, then a transcript can be offered separately via a download link. A transcript can also be included on the same page as the video. It all depends on what the site owner wishes to do.
How your navigation is set up is another area that may benefit from more accessibility. For those with mobility issues, the ability to control a mouse enough to get to or even click a link may be incredibly difficult. But having clear navigation on each page that doesn’t change its location can go a long way to helping those with motor issues to always know how to get around your website.
Animations, when excessive, may worsen the symptoms of those with physical challenges. And so, unless they complement the information on your site in some way, experts say they are best avoided.
Increased accessibility is also possible when you offer users more than one choice for viewing your site. Much like many sites offer a mobile version of their pages, you can make your site accessible to all by giving visitors more than one choice. For example, you may offer a link to an audio-only version of your site, or a simpler version containing no images or much larger text.
You can also make your site more accessible by allowing visitors the option to navigate it not only using a mouse, but also by keyboard controls.
Although color can be a great way to indicate certain things on a website, relying on it alone will result in your site information not being conveyed properly to all who visit. Experts suggest that color can certainly be used, but that other visual cues, such as form fields should also be present.
Website Accessibility and Your Business
It’s also important to keep in mind that, in many areas of the world, those who own business websites are obligated by law to consider the accessibility of those sites. Of course, it’s also important to note that accessibility not only refers to those who may have physical challenges, but also those who have slower internet connections than most, or are using the internet on a smaller screen, such as those which exist on tablets and smart phones.