Your website is not just an attractive piece of real estate you have online. It is a powerful marketing tool that works 24/7 at explaining to the world what you have to offer and give them.
But it’s effective only if the website’s accessibility is accessibility is optimal for everyone to access. Otherwise, you may lose top clients because they cannot find the site or interact because of the site design.
And this is the segment of the market suffering from disabilities like motor, visual and cognitive disabilities. They, however, are your target audience, so just by tweaking your website for website compliance, you can tap into and monetize the segment.
By boosting your website or mobile app accessibility, it gets more accessible and useful to generate more income. This is where ADA Site Compliance can help, as we are the #1 resource for ensuring ADA website compliance.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility ensures all web pages of a website are developed so that everyone, including people with disabilities, can access it. The goal is to provide an equal website experience for those with and without limitations.
Website accessibility addresses these primary disabilities:
- Visual disabilities include but are not limited to blindness, color blindness, and poor eyesight. It can also have difficulties reading text because of the sunlight and other similar situations.
- Auditory impairments include but are not limited to deafness and users who are hard of hearing
- Motor impairments that include but are not limited to muscle slowness, loss of muscle control, and the inability to use hands
- Neurological disabilities that include and are not limited to seizures, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy
- Intellectual and cognitive disabilities that include but are not limited to developmental and learning disabilities like dyslexia and non-verbal learning
Why make a website accessible?
Not only will you reach a larger audience with an accessible website, but accessibility is also required by law in some industries and countries for the following reasons. A website should be designed to be accessible to:
- Provide equal access to everyone
- Improve website navigation
- Provide multiple and equal avenues of interaction to communicate
- Prove your brand commitment to serving your target audience
- Protect your website from lawsuits and fines for inaccessibility
How to make your website accessible
If you want to learn how to make your website accessible, then you can get started with the help of these ten tips:
10 Simple Tips For Making Your Website More Accessible
The World Wide Web Consortium developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 & 2.1 to create an international standard of web content accessibility. They remove and restrict digital access barriers for people, governments, and organizations through detailed requirements, success criteria, and techniques to follow for website accessibility.
1. Use more helpful alt text or text alternatives for images
Including useful and descriptive alt text for images is the simplest but most overlooked aspect that supports accessibility. Dynamic content that includes all videos, graphics, and audio content must have text alternatives that help convey your message and let people using screen readers read your text.
Besides, the alt text aptly describes what is happening in an image and its relationship with the content to the screen reader user. Web development catering to the website visitors’ accessibility will help improve your online visibility and web compliance.
2. Include captions and text transcripts
Work at including video captions and transcripts by providing text alternatives for users who can’t hear the audio track to listen in the web design. They can thus experience and listen to the audio tracks like everyone else.
Avoiding using flash, time-based, or autoplay content will help make the website more accessible. This is essential because animated content like flashing and flickering images can harm those with photosensitive disorders and induce seizures.
So ensure you display appropriate warnings if you need to include them on your web page.
3. Have a logical page layout
The logical structuring of web pages through an appropriate heading hierarchy, header, footer, and relevant categories helps organize your website and enhance browsing and readability. It will prove helpful in presenting content in the best and easiest way possible for your audience.
The process includes ensuring all interactive elements are placed higher on the screen reader user web page.
It also involves using the proper use of headings because they make it easier for users to navigate the website to the relevant information. Screen reader users find it easier to navigate through the different website sections using the help of appropriate headers.
The headers have an important role in describing the content purpose, and the proper headings like H1, H2, and H3 will help to indicate the different sections to users. Accessing the content in different sections is so much easier if done through the headers.
4. Accessible navigation
Creating websites that are difficult to navigate only confuses users and frustrates people into leaving the website and looking for a better and easier-to-navigate website. Maintaining a consistent font, colors, and design will help improve website navigation and usability.
For better accessibility, use descriptive text for all links. For example, avoid using ‘click here’ for link text. Instead, offer some descriptive link text that informs users where the link takes them.
For example, you could use more descriptive text like ‘click to learn more about our company’ or ‘get your answers here.’
The benefit of doing this is to ensure screen reader users and people using other assistive technologies understand the purpose of the link in the first place. Besides, descriptive text not only increases your digitally accessible content but also improves SEO by providing keywords and context to search engines.
Error messages are frustrating and confusing, but they are the first thing users see when something is wrong with an inaccessible website. So it can impact your website rankings too if they are not clear. There is a way to avoid this for optimal access and navigation by writing helpful and informative error messages.
It involves ensuring your error messages are short and sweet, quickly relating to the user what went wrong. So be as specific as possible in explaining to the user what had happened and what they must do to rectify the problem.
Use plain language to interpret your instructions better, and avoid technical jargon or complicated acronyms. Always be positive in providing education about what users have to do during an error.
And lastly, do not overuse error messages. Yes, users need instructions and help to overcome an error, but they do not need to be reminded repeatedly. They will take care of the error when they are ready to take care of it.
5. Keep it simple
A simple website helps because it increases web compliance by letting visitors quickly find what they want. This means you need to eliminate anything unnecessary on the website.
You will also need a clean layout with lots of white space, a two or three-color scheme, and typically two fonts. It also helps if all graphics are purposeful, or in other words, clickable and insightful.
While choosing and using colors, it is better to check the color contrasts. This helps keep visitors engaged because those with visual impairments struggle to read content without color contrast.
Poor-sighted users may find it difficult to distinguish the different text and font if there is poor contrast between the colors. Besides, there should also be an alternative means of determining text than only depending on color.
For example, the visually impaired may find it difficult to read and tell the difference between text asking users to ‘use the red button to say no and the green button to say yes.’ You could alternatively use a colored button. If you do opt to use buttons, ensure they have appropriate alt tags for screen readers to pick up.
6. Mobile-friendly and responsive website
With more than half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, visitors are highly likely to abandon your website if it is not mobile-optimized. So having a mobile-friendly and responsive website helps improve web compliance and digital marketing.
Besides, as Google crawls desktop and mobile websites to index them, a mobile-friendly site improves your performance and online visibility. You can make your website more mobile-friendly by optimizing all information available on a desktop for mobile devices.
Also, place all buttons in the center of the screen to provide quick access to the users’ using just their thumbs. And the layout should be designed so that users can interact with a single touch using the help of one or two hands.
7. Make use of accessible website forms
The website form is an essential part of the website, often working as a major conversion or lead generation function for your website. So the form-filling process must be a user-friendly experience for everyone.
- The best way to ensure this is by marking all the form fields. This way, users with visual impairments and cognitive disabilities can understand and complete the form.
- Use larger label sizes for easier reading, especially for users with visually impaired users. It helps even more if you use contrasting colors while defining all the labels or fields in the forms.
- Some forms have options with sliders or popup menus. These can be difficult for some users with cognitive disabilities to use. Instead of these complicated controls, using text boxes or checkboxes will help increase your form accessibility.
- Avoid using placeholder text as labels in form elements to save screen real estate. It only ends up reducing the form’s usability. Visually impaired users may forget what the field was for as the text disappears once information is entered.
- Besides, in the case of assistive technologies like screen readers, it only reads the <label> elements of each field and skips the placeholder text. So, in addition to using <label> tags for naming form fields, also have some small helper text above the form field. This will help ensure your website visitors understand what they should do and write in the form.
8. Readable site text
The right website text enhances the website user’s experience. This is why font choice plays an integral part in ensuring the readability of the text. Some users may find reading text with curved lines challenging, as the font may be too wide or narrow because of the lines.
Always let users enlarge or zoom too small text to read it comfortably if they find it difficult.
9. Do not use color for displaying critical information
There is always the chance of people suffering from color blindness visiting your site. So having important data like graph data in forms and error fields in different colors only make it difficult for users with low vision or impairments to read the data.
Instead, it is better to describe the data in a graph using components like colored labels and patterns to make them easily distinguishable to the visitor.
10. Ensure there is an option for keyboard website navigation
Keyboard-only users will struggle to use a mouse to access and navigate your website functionality, content, and features. These users generally have physical disabilities and limitations and thus find accessing content easier with the keyboard.
And in a keyboard-accessible website, users should be able to access all the interactive elements with the help of the tab key. They should be able to use the ‘enter’ or ‘space’ buttons to activate interactive details and use functionality elements such as forms, links, and dropdown menus.
For even better convenience, you can ensure a smooth and easy process of essential elements through a logical tab order following the page’s visual process. This can be achieved using visual focus indicators like a highlighted outline to define a visual hierarchy of the selected elements.
You can always test keyboard navigation by ensuring the keys, like the tab key, moves through elements, the shift-tab goes back, and enter or space for selecting elements. Ensure the keys work as they should and that it is easy for users to get down pages if it is orderly.
It should also clearly indicate where you are on the page and if you can use all website features.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a compilation of questions we at ADA Website Compliance, your #1 resource for web accessibility, are frequently asked. They should clear most queries you have about digital inaccessibility.
1. What is the primary way that you can help your website to be more accessible to users with vision and hearing impairments?
You can take multiple steps to ensure your website is more accessible to users with vision and hearing impairments. For visual impairments, making the content more visually appealing using sufficient contrast between colors and textures, granting keyboard accessibility and manual font size adjustment, and not relying only on color to communicate important information helps.
For users with auditory disabilities, you can help improve digital accessibility by adding captions to videos, adding text transcripts to audio content, and ensuring the site is keyboard-accessible.
2. How do you create a good user experience on a website?
There are very few tips you can do to create a good experience for your website visitors. They include having content that is:
- Useful, original, and fulfilling any of the visitor’s needs
- Usable and especially easy to use by visitors
- Desirable using brand, identity, and other design elements that evoke emotion and appreciation
- Findable, navigable, and locatable both onsite and offsite
- Accessible to people with and without disabilities
- Credible so that users will believe and trust whatever you have to say to them
3. What makes a good website accessible?
Multiple variables go into making an entire blog post or good website accessible. However, industry-standard guidelines for web content management systems entail organizing your content management system around four principles.
Each of these principles has its requisites which are listed below.
This is the most basic level where information must be presented in a processable format to be accessible. It includes providing text for those with hearing or vision impairments and content to be easily accessible by screen readers and other assistive technologies.
An operable website is one where users with disabilities can operate the website and applications with tools. It includes implementing keyboard-based operation, controllable animations, and media and offering generous time limits for completing actions.
Everyone makes mistakes. Your apps and website should offer second chances, instructions, and warnings to help.
It is not sufficient to have a perceivable website. Your visitors should also understand whatever you have in it. This is possible through clear and concise language and functionality, consistent website navigation and visual order, logical and clear forms, and clearly defined processes like a checkout.
As you never know how and what user interface your visitor will use to access your site, ensure your website works well across multiple platforms, browsers, and devices. And the best way to do this is by following development standards and conventions, as clean code is more robust and consumable across platforms.
4. What are the five tips for making your website accessible to the widest possible range of people?
The five most essential tips to follow to ensure your website is most accessible to your potential customers and the maximum number of people are:
- Periodically reviewing web content accessibility guidelines to ensure your website conforms to them.
- Understanding what website accessibility is like and then ensuring your website is compliant. It includes using clearly described audio and video captions for the hearing-impaired and maintaining a proper color contrast between colors for the visually impaired.
- Keep things simple with clear instructions, white space, clearly defined form elements, and optimal web page hierarchy.
- Evaluate your website using the help of the many website accessibility tools to spot any problem areas you can rectify.
- Giving priority to website accessibility, no matter if you are building a new one or if your site has been live for some years.
5. What does website accessibility mean?
Website accessibility means the website is accessible to everyone, including differently-abled users. Top website accessibility practices include adding alt text or descriptive labels to images and providing alternatives for non-text content.
6. Will having an accessible website boost my SEO performance?
Yes, an accessible website will improve your SEO performance in search engines. It is because the more accessible your website is, the easier it is for search engines to find it.
So you now know about the ten tips that will help make your website more accessible. In addition to implementing these tips, make it a point to periodically use tools to check and ensure your website is WCAG compliant.
The tools will reveal how you can improve your website accessibility. However, you cannot depend solely on these tools to ensure web compliance. Hiring professional web developers to help audit and refine your website is always better.
This is the most overlooked aspect where we, ADA Site Compliance, can help. We help make your site accessible as we are the #1 resource for ensuring ADA website compliance. Our team of experts can conduct thorough website accessibility testing and capture any issues tools miss during user testing.
We even evaluate your website accessibility based on users with disabilities’ perspectives to provide the necessary support you need to maintain website compliance.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.