There’s no doubt that of all the elements of web design, accessibility is the most important. However, the focus of accessibility tends to be on general user friendliness, which means that accessibility specifically for users with disabilities is neglected. Web design has enormous potential to make life easier for persons with disabilities, yet frequently developers create websites which render content inaccessible for the disabled. So, what can you do to ensure your website is disability inclusive?
Many people take for granted the myriad ways in which an otherwise great website can present serious obstacles for users with disabilities. For example, while you may think that introductory videos and audio on your homepage are highly effective ways to grab users’ attention, have you considered that these additions exclude users who are deaf or hard of hearing? Many site owners also don’t take into account the fact that blind or partially blind users will generally be using screen readers to access content, and that their website needs to be suitably adapted to cater for these. Even basic layout decisions relating to font size, background color and visual contrast can affect accessibility.
Of course, there are basic moral reasons for ensuring that your site is inclusive of the disabled. We should all be striving to create experiences and spaces which are as inclusive of those with disabilities as possible. We need to support efforts to ensure that disabled people are fully integrated members of society who have the same opportunities to reach their full potential as everyone else. Although the moral imperative to achieve equality for the disabled is reason enough, there are also legal considerations which must be taken into account. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that it is a violation of federal law to discriminate against persons with disabilities, and companies can be given hefty fines for doing so. In particular, the ADA requires that businesses take all necessary reasonable steps to communicate effectively with consumers and clients with hearing, speech and vision disabilities. In the first half of 2018 alone, over 5000 lawsuits were filed against site owners for ADA violations on their websites.
There are many ways in which a website can violate the ADA, but by prioritizing the following five issues, your website will be well on its way to being disability inclusive.
You can find guidelines and recommendations on accessibility on the World Wide Web Consortium’s website. These provide useful tips for designers on how ensure text, audio and visual content is suitable for users with disabilities.
Websites are increasingly populated with images, but as aesthetically pleasing as these might be, they render a lot of content inaccessible for those with vision-related disabilities. Use alt tags to provide text descriptions of the images on your website to ensure accessibility for blind and partially blind users. This is especially important not only for your website, but for any social media pages affiliated with your business.
Different multimedia treatments are a great way to spice up your website, but they can often render text unreadable. Be careful with your color and contrast selections, and provide good text-based alternatives for screen readers if you plan on using interactive graphics.
This one is a no brainer. Videos are fantastic, but they’re not accessible to all your users. Ensure that you provide transcriptions for any video treatments which you use, or provide text updates for the streaming of live events.
Using the correct tags for your web interface and checking that they are logically ordered can go a long way to ensuring that screen readers are able to easily and effectively process content in a way which communicates it correctly to end users. For example, if you’re going to use a list, use a list tag. By loading a version of your page without any of the visual styles added, you should be able to test it for coherence. This small step can make a big difference to accessibility.
As the owner of a website, you won’t have direct control over accessibility issues. You’ll need to hire web developers you can trust to create a web page which is ADA compliant and inclusive for all end users, especially those with disabilities. Connectica LLC is a website design company which understands the importance of disability inclusivity and has years of experience in providing clients with professional, aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-navigate websites which take the needs of all users into account. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can help you to be more inclusive in the way you interact with potential customers.
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