12 Tweaks to Help Ensure Your Website is Accessible to All

378

Believe it or not, it just takes a few small changes to your website to help improve its accessibility for those with disabilities and other impairments such as visual, motor, ADHD, epileptics, and others who use the web for work and enjoyment. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: It’s easy to tweak your website to make it accessible to a larger group of people.

working-with-pc

Keep in mind as you are reading that there are three levels of digital accessibility according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – A, AA, and AAA. Below outlines how you can knock out easy changes (level A), but you can learn more about the WCAG and your options here.

First Up: Understanding Screen-Readers

Many different groups of people will use a screen-reader to help aid them as they navigate the web, and as a website owner, understanding how a screen-reader works is your ticket to success.

A screen-reader is a software that is installed on a user’s computer and smartphone, most commonly for the visually impaired. A few popular screen-readers include JAWS and NVDA, all of which could be compatible with your website. Some of the tips below focus on the user themselves, while others focus on how the screen-reader interprets information (then it’s the screen-readers job to relay that information accurately to the user – think of a screen-reader like your middleman). Consider the tweaks you can make below:

12 Easy Website Tweaks to Improve Website Accessibility

Tackle the Common Accessibility Obstacles

  • Colors. Focus on how you are using color. Colors like green, yellow, and blue can look similar to colorblind users or be difficult to read for others. This doesn’t mean you can’t use color to help something stand out on your website, just use them sparingly and try not to rely on color when giving information (for example, “press the orange button”).
  • CTA Buttons. Keep those buttons large and clickable! This is a best practice for every website whether you’re focusing on those with disabilities or not (although it poses a greater challenge for those with mobility impairments).
  • Minor Content Changes. Always be sure you are using subheadings to organize your thoughts (again, a best practice regardless). According to Mashable, it’s also helpful to put periods in between each letter when using abbreviations. For example, write out C.I.A. rather than CIA to help screen-readers interpret the information best.
  • Always Use Transcripts for Video Content. For obvious reasons, a screen-reader cannot read a video. This makes transcripts on the page important – plus again, it’s best for SEO!

Eliminate Flashing, Blinking, and Animations

In 99% of websites, you will want to eliminate this for all users; however, it is particularly important for those with epilepsy. Users have plenty of plugin options to instantly freeze all animations, gifs, and flashing images, but as a website owner, you can make this easier by ensuring those who visit your site have to press play to start the animation, gif, etc. Learn more about freezing animations here.

Focus on HTML and Hyperlink Structure

  • Use Alt Text. Adding alt text goes in the HTML code of your website, which is easy to add if you’re using WordPress. This will make it easy for screen-readers to understand what the image conveys. This is also a best practice for general SEO.
  • Focus on Link Text Alternatives. On the front end, you can help screen-readers by altering the text you use when hyperlinking. For example, it’s better to say “Check out how to add alt text to images in WordPress” as opposed to “To learn more about alt text, click here.”
  • Try Not to Use Tables. Screen-readers have a hard time conveys information that is written in a table format, so try to avoid this visual representation if you can (or have a clear transcript to accompany it). If you must use a table, make sure your headings are clear and use CSS.

Make sure Forms are Accessible to Use

  • Content Concerns. Make sure that if you have a form with fields, they are labeled as clearly as possible for the screen-readers. For example, “get my brochure” is better than “go.”
  • Avoid Placeholder Text. This content is usually hard to see because it is light-grey on white. While this is of course on purpose, it poses a problem for many with disabilities. To combat this, use the <label> tag to ensure the screen-reader can pick up the text, or consider dropping this text altogether.
  • Keyboard-Operable Considerations. You should be able to easily move across your different form fields using the TAB key. This is crucial for those who are unable to use a mouse.

Enable a Virtual Keyboard

Ensuring that your website is accessible to those with motor impairments who cannot use a mouse ideally involves utilizing a virtual keyboard, sometimes called keyboard navigation, on your website. This is also a great option for those visiting your website from another country with a different language (there are many different ways of getting this installed from both the user and the website owner standpoint. Our favorite place to start is Google Input Tools.)

Bonus: Consider Working with an Agency for Maximum Impact

While these tweaks are fairly simple to make on an individual level, incorporating all of these tweaks can seem daunting. There are great tools out there that will actually use AI to allow users to choose a specific type of way to view your website.

After much research, accessiBe seemed to be the leading one-stop solution for ADA compliance and overall accessibility. Below is a screenshot from their website that shows how easy it can be to create different profiles based on your disability, ensuring your website is perfectly optimized for all different types of users:

In addition to making sure your website changes based on the user (talk about personalization in 2021), a solution like this also ensures you are ADA and WCAG compliant, which offers another layer of validation and trustworthiness of your website.

Last but not Least: Ask for Help

Do your best to improve your website accessibility according to the tips above, but when you think you’ve finished, ask someone with a disability to give it a try and offer tips. There is no better way to understand what could be improved for a particular user than asking that user! It’s also a good idea to check to see if your website is compliant for free as a jumping off point as you go through your changes. Happy optimizing!

 

Like this post? Let us know!
  • CoolAF (100%)
  • Cool (0%)
  • Whatever (0%)
  • Boring (0%)
  • WTF (0%)
Summary
Title
12 Tweaks to Help Ensure Your Website is Accessible to All
Description
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: It’s easy to tweak your website to make it accessible to a larger group of people.
No tags for this post.

More News from Nexter