Most people know that buildings need to be accessible to all, under the Americans With Disabilities Act. It's also important for websites to be accessible. This means that the content needs to be able to be accessed by those who with vision, hearing, mobility, or other challenges. In some cases, it's the law but in every case, it's the right thing to do. The best practice is to make sure your site meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Here are the most important steps you need to take to make your website totally accessible.
Use Alt Text for Images
Blind people deserve equal access to website content. The use of a screen reader tool will read the content to the user. This is great for all the text, but what about pictures? For all images on your website, you need to include a description of the image. This is called alt text, or alternate text. When an image includes text, this should also be included in the alt text description. A screen reader will read this content to the user along with the rest of the text on the page.
Be Careful with Color
The use of color can sometimes be a problem for those with color blindness and those with low vision. Color blindness or color deficiency affects as many as 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women. The most common type of color blindness is a red-green color deficiency. For this reason, you should never use only these colors to distinguish content. Using color to distinguish content is generally a good idea, especially because it can help people with learning disabilities. In addition to using color, you should use visual separation like a border or a block of white space.
Use Closed Captioning for Videos
Video content is found on almost every website today because it's such a rich and engaging tool. Those with auditory challenges, however, will be left out unless you use closed captioning. More than 360 million people worldwide are deaf or hard of hearing, so that's a pretty big segment to leave out. If you are hosting your video on YouTube, the process for adding a transcript to a video is pretty seamless. If you are hosting elsewhere, there may be a few extra steps. Either way, video captioning companies are the easiest way to get transcripts of your videos made and added to the video content. They will ensure that your videos are ready to serve any deaf or hard of hearing website visitors equally.
Make sure content can be navigated with keyboard alone
People with mobility challenges might not be able to use a mouse or trackpad. It's important that your website can be navigated using just the keyboard. It should also be easily navigable by those using an alternative device like a single-switch input or mouth stick. It's important to not use any elements that only activate when hovered over with a mouse. It's also a good idea to use anchor links that will let users jump from one piece of content to the next.
These are the most important steps to take to make your website accessible. There are a number of tools available that can help you determine if your website is meeting the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. These tools can identify problem areas and suggest solutions. You can also explore this list of personas to give you a personal look into the types of challenges certain people face. This human perspective can help make clear why you need to make sure your website is accessible and how you can best do it.
Ensuring your website's accessibility will often improve your website overall. Making sure all content is clear and well organized will be good for everyone, including those visitors without any challenges.