January 4, 2015
Web accessibility is about making your website accessible to all users. This includes different browsers, screen sizes. Users who are unable to see or have low vision, have dyslexia, have a physical disability, are unable to hear and more.
Catering for all these eventualities can depend on the outcome of your website. However, making sure you cover all of these on a basic level will ensure your site not only works well, but is accessible to everyone.
Basic web accessibility
The following are all basic web accessibility changes that you, or your developer can make to your website to make them accessible to all.
- Adding alt tags to images – Individuals who are unable to see may use a screen reader to navigate your website. These readers will use the text within your website to let the user know what is in the page. For images, it reads the alt tags (extra text added to the image code to describe the image). Make sure to add these to all images to let the user know what the image is.
- Adding prompt text to forms – Forms are a vital part of every website, whether you are using them as contact forms or email sign up, they need to be accessible to all. By adding labels to all your form items you ensure that users understand how to use the form. For more accessibility options for forms read this article.
- Break up your content – Users with physical disabilities that prohibit the use of their hands may be unable to use a mouse. They will instead will use a keyboard to tab through the content on your site. To allow them to do this you will need to break up your content with headings, links and lists. Similarly you must not use images as navigation as these will be ignored by the tabbing function.
- Make links easy to click – Many mobile devices have small screens and individuals use their finger to click links. For this reason the clickable area of your link must be much larger to allow for ease of use.
- Allow for limited bandwidth – Users with a slow Internet connect may not be able to access the most advanced of website pages. Optimise your website to run as quickly as possible.
Advanced web accessibility
The following are web accessibility options you can add to your website which are more advanced than the listings above. These depend on your audience and the content within your website, but can still add an extra dimension for your audience.
- Provide transcripts for audio content – Users who are hard of hearing will need video or audio content to be transcribed so they can access the content. Services such as SpeakerText can do this for you.
- Don’t use colour to communicate information – Users who cannot perceive colour differences may struggle with your website if you use colour to indicate navigation. For example, if your site colours links, then it must also underline them as well.
- Add a sitemap – Site users may want to access specific content quickly and easily. Adding a sitemap to your website will allow said users to navigate easily.