Is your website accessible?
Published: November 2019
Millions of consumers worldwide have disabilities which interfere with their use of the world wide web.
When websites choose not to be accessible, they’re cutting off a significant number of people from gaining knowledge, entering online communities and taking part in online activities many of us do regularly – such as online shopping. Alongside the obvious societal implications, hosting a website that isn’t accessible could also have an impact on your business. If you can’t provide an accessible website to accommodate those with disabilities, they’ll move onto a competitor who will.
In this blog, we’ll be looking at some of the more common impairments that affect web browsing and how your website can be adapted to accommodate them.
Keyboard navigation is a vital aspect of website accessibility. Braille terminals rely on keyboard navigation to translate and users with motor skill impairments or who otherwise find using a mouse difficult (or impossible) often depend on their keyboard to browse the internet. If your website requires a mouse in order to navigate through content, you’re shutting the door on many users.
Images and Alt-text
Alt-text isn’t just for SEO. Providing image descriptions gives screen readers and braille terminals the ability to add context to an image the user wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. It’s also worth bearing in mind how important it is to see an image in order to understand content on a page – if you’ve added an image purely for decorative purposes, an alt-text description should be enough to make your page accessible. However, if the images are vital to actually understand the content as a whole, that may not be the most accessible way to communicate with your users.
You may be tempted to give your menu options unique titles to help you stand out. You might like the idea of renaming your ‘meet the team’ page with something whacky, like ‘meet our digital ninjas’, but not only could this confuse most users, it could completely alienate users with cognitive impairments. Confusing links, header names and menu options can cause some neurodiverse users to become frustrated or bored. They’ll leave your site and aren’t likely to come back.
Some dyslexic users may be using colour overlays on their screen to help them read text and offset visual stress. There are a wide range of overlays for all kinds of cognitive conditions and they come in a variety of colours. The best way to find out how your website looks with overlays is to try them yourself – if your text is difficult to read with certain overlays, you might want to think about making a change.
It may well be an effective tool for grabbing attention (and is still used by many pop-up ads today) but animations with flashing or rapid transitions between dark and light colours can trigger seizures, so they’re best avoided. If you want to go the extra mile, there is free software available to test the photosensitivity risk of your videos.
Clear headers, plenty of white space and neatly organised content will keep any user happy, but particularly those with cognitive impairments. Badly presented and cluttered content is a nightmare for anyone to navigate, but add a cognitive or neurological impairment into the mix and it’s virtually impossible. Your brand messaging (which you have probably spent a lot of time crafting) will be completely lost and forgotten.
Don’t rely on colour alone to relay information. This can be useless to those with visual impairments and can be particularly confusing to those who are colour blind. If colour alone is providing context to your content, you may want to rethink that.
Take a look at how you pair colours together, particularly within text. If you’re not using black text on a white background and are experimenting with different colours, make sure that the colours aren’t too close in shade, otherwise your text might be difficult to read. Similarly, you don’t want to contrast the text colour and background colour so harshly that it’s painful to look at – like pink on green, for example.
Need help to make your website accessible?
We hope this blog has been helpful to you, but we understand that some of you may have realised that your website isn’t as accessible as you thought. Don’t panic! Urban River can support you and your business in all aspects of web design and development. Get in touch today and we’ll work together to build a website that is accessible to all.