If you have a shop on a local main street, you want to make it welcome all customers. You will have a large sign that is easy to read. You will have an entrance that is wide enough for people with trains, wagons and wheelchairs.
What if you think of your website the same way?
This article will discuss some quick and simple fixes to increase the accessibility of your website so that it is open and can be used for all visitors, including people with disabilities.
What is website accessibility?
Website accessibility is the practice of designing your site so that there are no obstacles for people with disabilities. This includes people who have vision, hearing problems, use the mouse, read and understand, or motor skills.
But it is also about ease of use for all visitors, including parents, those who have difficulty reading on screen, or people with “situational” boundaries. For example, maybe they are in an open office and can’t hear voices.
Checking website accessibility: common obstacles
Often people who use a “usually” website don’t think of obstacles that make it impossible to use. This list is not very comprehensive, but touches on some common obstacles:
- Important information buried in photographs or infographics. Someone who uses a text-to-voice reader cannot “see” this.
- Audio or video content without subtitles or transcripts.
- Long and complicated navigation menu. Someone who uses the keyboard to navigate your site must manually crash into all the pages to go anywhere.
- The keys are very small or too close together.
- Text that is too small or blends into the background (lack of contrast).
- Directions that rely solely on color or visuals, such as “Press the red button.” If you are among 8% of men with color blindness, you will experience problems with this.
- Offering telephone numbers as the only way to contact you. If someone can’t talk or use a traditional telephone, they need another way to connect.
How can I make my website more accessible?
There are entire manuals and checklists for online website accessibility. But just approaching your website design with a little empathy and awareness can make a big difference. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Provide alternatives for audio and visual elements
People might use screen readers or other assistive technology to “read” your site. If you have important information buried in infographics, tables or videos, also include transcripts or captions.
2. Add alternative text to your image
Alternative text is a little text that explains what is in the picture. This enters the HTML code behind the screen so screen readers can access it. That way someone who can’t see your picture can still know what’s inside.
3. Adjust the color and contrast of your website
Choose colors that are quite different from each other so that your text is easy to read. To play it safely, choose dark text with a bright background.
4. Make room for large and clear buttons
Leave enough space around the button for easy pressure and keep the text large and clear. Don’t put two important buttons right next to each other, because accidentally clicking on the wrong button can be very frustrating.
5. Choose a font that is large and easy to read
Stick with large, serif or sans-serif fonts and avoid narrow or decorative ones. Want to test it? Submit your website to anyone over the age of 60 and ask if they can read it without glasses.
Website accessibility helps all visitors
The good news is, it’s easy to make small, non-technical changes so that your website is more useful, especially if you ask for customer feedback. Plus, when you make your site accessible to people with disabilities, you make your website easier for everyone, and that is win/win.