How to Make Your Website Accessible?
Regardless of whatever industry you belong to, creating an accessible website will increase your audience reach. Therefore, if you assume that website accessibility only belongs to the government and big businesses, think again. Accessibility is necessary for everyone who has a product or a service to offer.
The internet must be accessible for people with disabilities as it is for able people.
Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It shows that you are empathic and thoughtful. Moreover, it will get maximum views as an immediate result.
In this blog, we’ll have an in-depth look at website accessibility. Ways to improve it. Web accessibility guidelines and show how to implement it on your website.
What is Web Accessibility?
The annoying website that loads slowly, or difficultly in navigating the unresponsive website, we’ve all experienced it. For normal people, these are minor problems. For people with disabilities, it restricts them from using the internet.
Website accessibility is utilizing technology to support disabled people to perceive, navigate, and contribute to the site. Accessibility is a well-thought website design & development process rather than an afterthought.
Why Is Website Accessibility Important?
A report by WHO confirms that around 15% of the population across the globe has some disability. People with disabilities have an equal right to access information on the internet. Technology can remove the barrier that prevents website accessibility. So, users must navigate the website regardless of their age, physical or mental disability. The focus must be to provide a seamless user experience.
Besides turning the internet into a place for everyone, a smart web accessibility strategy provides additional benefits. Website Accessibility is something that integrates website design & development. And overlaps them with mobile-friendly designs, usability, and search engine optimization (SEO).
An accessible website can reduce maintenance costs, increase audience reach, and showcase corporate social responsibility (CSR). A well-designed website not only accompanies people with disabilities, it significantly improves the user experience for everyone.
Web Accessibility Standards
The WCAG was developed by Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It consists of universal guidelines to create a website for people with disabilities.
WCAG has two versions in the market: WCAG 2.0 and 2.1. ISO certified WCAG 2.0 in 2012. WCAG 2.1 was published in 2018. In version 2.1, all the success criteria of 2.0 are covered with some additional points.
The WCAG is the most authentic legislation on web accessibility across the globe. Some countries indirectly follow WCAG guidelines. The European Standard EN 301 549, for example, doesn’t state anywhere that they use WCAG, but they follow all the directions by WCAG.
WCAG is divided into three levels:
This level has the minimum accessibility requirements. Failing to meet the requirements of this level, will result in an inaccessible website.
Here’s a checklist of Level A to make your website accessible:
- Add captions to videos with audio.
- Disable automatic video and audio play feature.
- Avoid flashing and blinking content.
- Label every element and provide clear instructions.
- Use ALT tags with each image.
- Give clear & proper titles.
- Give user controls for moving content.
The second level removes most of the barriers for disabled people. Level AA is the standard level followed by most websites.
Let’s take a look at the checklist for Level AA.
- Use captions for live videos.
- The contrast ratio between text and background must be 4.5:1
- Use relative text scaling instead of absolute scaling (discussed later)
- Inform users when the language of the page changes.
- Suggest fixes when the user makes any errors.
- Stay consistent with icons, buttons, and menus.
- Ensure that the keyboard focus is clear.
The highest level of accessibility and the most difficult to achieve. This level is prescribed only in need of utmost necessity.
- Use sign language for videos.
- Provide a text alternative for videos.
- The contrast ratio between text and background is 7:1.
- Offer users multiple presentation options.
- Avoid using text-based images.
- Inform users about their current location.
- Break the content into several sub-headings.
- Elaborate complex words and abbreviations in the page.
- Provide detailed help and instructions.
- Avoid changing anything on the website without taking permission from the user.
A detailed checklist is available at WebAIM.
The Principles of Accessibility
Website accessibility is impossible without fundamental principles. These are known as POUR, which is an acronym that defines accessibility:
Perceivable – Firstly, the elements presented can be perceived by various senses. Normal users can use visuals but disabled people need sound or touch to perceive the website. It’s like providing text alternatives for non-textual content. Secondly, for images, ALT tags help in understanding the image. Use captions for every image. Provide video transcripts to understand the content of the video.
Operable – The interactive elements like buttons, navigation, and controls must be operable. Operable elements must be easy to find, it’s like clicking, tapping, swiping, or rolling. For others, voice commands or devices like a headband or eye trackers must be used.
Understandable – The technology must be easy to understand and be consistent with predictable patterns for the users. The end-users should not face any issue understanding the information presented to them.
Robust – Robustness is making content available for users by using various technologies, including the assistive device.
The lack of these principles will make the website inaccessible for disabled users.
How to Improve Your Google ranking with web Accessibility?
Google navigates a website like a deaf and blind person. Placing the content in an accessible manner can increase your chances of ranking high in Google search results.
Moreover, if your website is not attracting Google’s attention you are losing a lot of traffic. Research by Search Engine Journal reported that sites that appear on the first page of Google receive 91.5% of traffic share than other websites.
This means that websites need to be accessible to people with disabilities. Aligning your website with Google’s guidelines is important. Here’s how to begin:
- Give users value: Users are attracted to valuable content. Create content that matters to them.
- Link to other websites: Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find important websites. The search engine can differentiate between natural and unnatural links. And, when other websites add your link, this improves the overall rank of your website and make it accessible.
- Build a logical structure: Every page must be linked in a well-thought-out way. An accessible website provides the user with a seamless way to browse the website.
- Great UX means more accessibility: When websites are designed with accessibility in mind, SEO follows. Almost every metric demands an easy user experience that impacts search results. Focus on creating simple navigation, quality content, mobile responsiveness, and internal linking.
Things to Avoid
- Avoid filling your pages with “cloak” pages. If your website has links, pages, or text that are not intended for the visitor, Google will ignore your website.
- Don’t buy SEO optimization services. Some companies use Black-hat SEO to rank faster that can backfire on your website.
- Refrain from using images to convey important names, links, and content. The crawler doesn’t recognize text used in images.
- Creating multiple copies of the same page under a different URL might blacklist your website.
How to Deal with Web Accessibility Obstacles?
Website Accessibility can be achieved with a minimum expense. To avoid any issues with web accessibility, keep an eye of the following things:
- Navigation: The basic issue, even with normal people, is to navigate the website without any problems. This makes it impossible for disabled people to access the site.
- Site Structure: For people with disabilities, it’s impossible to navigate with a broken website structure. Everything must be predictable for people who don’t rely on vision-dependent cues, a structured website is easy to understand.
- Text: Apart from blindness, people with color blindness cannot view text if it’s unclear. Developing web pages with flexible and readable text can overcome this hurdle.
- Images: To convey useful information with images is the wrong choice for web accessibility. Important information like the ‘home’ button should contain text to help users navigate properly.
- Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks are one of the core features that help users to navigate freely between the pages. For vision-impaired people, hyperlinks must be clearly labeled.
- Multimedia: For deaf people, video can be a hurdle to access the website. Captioning videos with audio can overcome this hurdle.
- Forums: Forums must be properly designed. Inaccessible forums can lead to serious consequences, and people can file a complaint just like one that was launched against shoe manufacturer Reebok.
Here are ten ways to make your website accessible for a global audience.
How to Make Your Website Accessible?
Make Your Website Keyboard-Friendly
An accessible website can work without a mouse. Ensure that major site features like browsing pages, links, and content work with keyboard-only navigation.
Generally, the Tab key is used to jump between buttons, links, and forms on the website. Ensure that elements can be accessed with the Tab key.
If it’s difficult to navigate the website without a mouse, pinpoint those issues and address them. WAVE Evaluation Tool by WebAIM gives a handy guide for web accessibility with the keyword.
Easily Accessible Content
On a static website, it’s easy to make content accessible. But with a dynamic website when elements on the website change, it’s difficult for a disabled person to realize it.
For a dynamic website, ARIA landmarks can help in identifying specific important sections of the website. For example ‘live region’ tag will enable screen readers to understand the changing content as it happens.
ARIA landmarks enable users to skip sections on the page. They can navigate to the main section avoiding the link-heavy sections.
The Make WordPress Accessible Handbook contains all the necessary information that needs to use ARIA landmarks on your website.
Don’t Ignore the ALT tags
The ALT tags with an image are an alternative when the image doesn’t load properly on the website.
A Green bag might not be visible, and the name “Image 245” doesn’t help the user understand what the image is all about. Moreover, an ALT tag, “Green bag with stripes,” can help the user create a visual image of the product.
Alternate text helps with SEO giving them more information to browse and index the page. A descriptive summary of each image, along with keywords, will improve the SEO ranking of your website.
Select Colors Carefully
Have you ever considered why Facebook is blue? That’s because Mark Zuckerberg is color blind and can only see Blue color.
Color Blindness is not an issue. It’s just people who perceive colors with a different spectrum. You need to choose colors that can easily be distinguished and differentiate various elements on the page.
To avoid confusion, the text must stand out from the background. A dark color will stand out on a light background, ensuing that both don’t blend.
Avoid bad color contrast:
Instead, try an eye-pleasing contrast:
Website Accessibility is about a pleasing web experience. Evade eye-straining colors that will drive people away.
Structure Content Effectively with Better Headers
Carefully using headers on your website will make it easy to understand.
Clear headers help screen readers to interpret pages. A simple header helps in structuring the website and makes heading levels, which makes navigation easy.
As a general rule, H1 is used in a heading followed by sub-heads beginning with H2, H3, and H4. To avoid confusion, tags must be used in an orderly fashion.
Develop Forms for Accessibility
The developed forms must accommodate web accessibility. Each field must be clearly labeled. Labels must be placed adjacent to every field. Not to mention that a normal user might identify the fields without labels, but someone using a screen reader will not be able to match the fields that are not properly labeled.
Instructions & information must be clear to understand. Major CMS offers accessibility plugins for developers, making it easy to create an accessible website.
Use Tables only for Tabular Data
Tables make it easier for users to read a large amount of data quickly and get the maximum benefit from it.
But tables must only be used for tabular data. For instance, tables for lists, layouts, or anything else can be confusing for screen readers and disabled people.
If your website demands complex tables, use the W3 guide to create tables maintaining accessibility standards of the website.
Resizable Text Won’t Break Your Website
Mostly, every device by default enables resizable text, which helps people with visual impairments. And if your website doesn’t support this feature, the resized text will break on various devices.
As revealed by experts relative sizes will adjust with every screen while absolute text will break. Therefore, scalability will make it difficult for users to resize the text on different devices.
To check the scalability of fonts, use the zoom feature in your browser. If it’s difficult to read or navigate, check out the WebAIM guide for font sizing.
Automatic Media & Navigation is a Bad Option
Automatic media is quite annoying for general users. For people using screen readers, this can be frightening or confusing. And it will be difficult to turn it off.
Sliders & Carousels must be avoided. Furthermore, it can prevent viewers from absorbing the information before the next slider.
Use Content that supports Web Accessibility
In conclusion, while developing the content of your website, design it with an understanding of accessibility. Therefore, pay attention to minor things. Avoid writing a lot of acronyms. Use unique and descriptive links. Add descriptive anchor text.
We Will Make Your Website Accessible
Our experts will analyze the website accessibility of your website. Discuss WCAG violations and correct it.