Improving Website Accessibility: Benefits and Best PracticesDec 2022
Firstly, Why Should you Care About your Website Accessibility?
Making your website accessible to a wider range of individuals should never be seen as a bad thing. While a time investment must be made, the investment is more than worth it, in the long and short term. You want your website to be as easy to access and navigate as possible, for all visitors.
Making your website accessible can include those with disabilities such as; low vision, blindness, learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, Deafness, hearing loss and much more.
How Can you Make your Website More Accessible?
Offer text alternatives: image alt text
All media on your page will need to have text alternatives so that non-sighted people can understand them (with use of screen readers for instance). Using a tool such as image alt-text is the most common approach to meet this accessibility guideline, and it is fairly easy to do. While it is a heavy time investment, it is a worthwhile one nonetheless.
Structure content in an accessible way
Make your website as easy to navigate as possible. This should be a goal for a great website already, but ensuring the site structure is laid out in a way that makes sense and that users would expect can help improve your website's accessibility.
Use proper headings
Using correct headings and heading tags (H1 to H6) can make websites easier to scan for those who use screen readers.
Use Heading 1 for the page title, heading 2 for a subheading, further subheadings under these will be Headings 3’s and 4’s and so-forth. This is a relatively short process to achieve, making this less of an intense investment overall.
Make your content easy to see and hear
Ensure your content is friendly to those who are colourblind and/or low-vision by using contrasting colours - Compare the background and text colour in greyscale before using - do they contrast enough? Is the text still legible?
Use tools to view your site how others would - such as an emulator in Chromes DevTools. Emulate how others see your website with varying vision deficiencies and compare the contrast and visibility.
If you have video or audio content on your site, check the audio quality is as high as possible for those with partial hearing loss, and provide the option to read written content instead (i.e. captions or transcriptions).
No blinking or flashing content
Those sensitive to blinking or flashing content will appreciate the avoidance of these features where possible. Avoid content that flashes more than 3 times per second, as this can trigger seizures.
Useful error messages
Write detailed error messages with instructions when visitors make mistakes, helping them correct their errors and move on.
Provide time for interaction
Allow users time to read and react to varying content types on your site, within reasonable time limits. Allow users to extend or cancel a time limit if there needs to be one, but generally avoid limited-time content on your web pages, such as count-down pop-ups.
Writing your HTML code in a way that can be parsed appeals to those who use assistive technologies that access HTML code to translate its content into varying formats. Use start and end tags appropriately, and avoid duplicate content elements within the same tags.
Overall, website accessibility is an incredibly important topic that all websites should consider.
Not only does it provide an improved experience for people with disabilities, but it’s also been proven to increase website traffic and conversions. By having a better understanding of website accessibility and implementing the tips discussed, you can ensure that your website is available to all users.