What is web accessibility?
To understand web Accessibility, we must first understand what “Accessibility” means. Wikipedia defines Accessibility as “the concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development to ensure both direct access an indirect access meaning compatibility with the persons assistive technology”. Web accessibility is a method of making everyone including disabled people have access and understand your website.
To make your website accessible to all disabilities you must include auditory disabilities, cognitive disabilities, neurological disabilities, physical disabilities, speech disabilities and visual disabilities. This is also beneficial to people using mobile phones, smartwatches, smart televisions and devices with different input modes. Senior citizens will also benefit from this despite their abilities changing due to aging.
Web accessibility benefits Accident victims with temporary disabilities. motorcycle riders will also benefit from web accessibility.
Why is web accessibility important?
The Internet has become increasingly important as a repository of information. more and more resources are moving to Internet based repositories for ease of distribution and ease of access. Web sites are now the first and last points of contact for many important services including education, government services, health care and recreation. Websites with good accessibility will help disabled people participate more actively in society. Websites are also the easiest way to interact with people with disabilities for example people with disabilities who cannot go to the store can use a website to purchase what did acquire. Optimizations for web accessibility dense to overlap with good mobile web design, good user experience and search engine optimization.
An accessible website gives people with disabilities the ability to access information and services that their disability might have affected. Web Accessibility is also required by law and policies in some areas within organizations to help people with disabilities. Web accessibility will also help illiterate people from using services that might have been not possible previously.
Improving accessibility on your website increases your potential audience as well. The more users can use your site, the better for your website’s growth. This also will make your website future proof.
Here are some guidelines to make your website accessible:
Your website should be keyboard optimized or keyboard friendly
Many assistive technologies depend on keyboard only navigation. This means that it must be possible to use your entire website and its major features with only a keyboard. This includes accessing all page links and content with just the keyboard.
Use of the tab key to navigate a website is very common. Do this to focus the cursor on sections of your page that can be interacted with. With this in mind, set a goal to make your website accessible using just the tab key. To evaluate whether your website is accessible simply use your own site without a mouse.
Ensure all content is available
If the website contains dynamic content some sections might not be accessible until the website is completely loaded. This can be problematic if the site does not inform the assistive tool of the change. You need to make the tool aware when the content shifts otherwise the user might miss the changed content.
A method of doing this is by using ARIA landmarks. These are HTML tags that you add to content to clearly define live regions on a page. ARIA landmarks also help denote ‘main’ links that help users skip link heavy page sections.
Using Alt text with images
Alt text or alternative text is a replacement for an image if it fails to load. Alt text and other alt attributes like alt description and alt tags are also accessed by screen readers to read the picture. This field can be used to describe an image therefore giving context to users who would miss it.
This also has a positive effect on improving your website’s SEO as they enable search engines to crawl through the information on your website. It is essential to write descriptive text of an image and try to include keywords wherever it can be.
The rule of thumb in using colors is to make sure that the colors you use have a contrast between the text in the foreground and the background. This is done by avoiding a palette where the shades are similar in Hue and saturation. You should also avoid colors that could cause eyestrain. A good indicator for how effective your color palette is if your site is clear in monochrome.
Use of headers
Clearly structure and separate your website content by using HTML tags. This will make your content much easier to read. this will also help screen readers interpret your website well. Using headers well makes in-page navigation easier. for example, there should be only one H1 tag per page, this should ideally be the page title. Nestle H2 tags subheadings under their respective H1 tag. H3, H4 and so on should be nested further under a previous tag.
For assistive technologies, that read the screen a well-designed form is important. First, ensure that you label each field clearly. Placed labels adjacent to the respective fields. This is to ensure people using a screen reader will be able to match a label with the corresponding field or option.
Provide instructions and information in a clear manner so that the user can easily understand.
Use of tables
When dealing with large amounts of data, tables are quite useful. Keeping tables as simple as possible can be very beneficial. It’s best to use tables for only data and not anything else. For example, you should not use tables for layouts, this might confuse screen readers and other similar devices.
Most browsers will help users resize text, which is helpful to read for those with visual impairment. this should be kept in mind while designing a website, if not resizing text might break your design.
A good practice is to use relative sizes instead of using pixels to specify text size. This helps the text to scale depending on screen size and content width. Never turn off user scalability.
To make sure that your website design is good, test your website thoroughly by changing the zoom level and checking in your own browser. If you find that your website becomes difficult to read or navigate use this guide to help decide on font size.
Use of automatic sliders
Automatic sliders should be avoided as they can be frustrating if the time the viewer needs to absorb information is not enough before it moves to the next slide or section. Screen readers can also confuse things when the content navigates to a new slide.
It is important that we make our website as welcoming as possible to as many people as possible. Optimizing a website for access ability is it relatively easy. This will ensure that everyone who visits your website will be happy and your audience reach will increase.
Designing a website for Accessibility also helps understand possible flaws in your design and content and optimizes your website for search engines.