How To Improve Accessibility of a Website: Here Are 11 Ways
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Making your website more accessible starts with finding a knowledgeable accessibility company that provides great customer service. Digital accessibility is complicated, nuanced and highly litigious as ADA lawsuits continue to spike, so finding an advocate who can guide you through the process is key. Before you can even begin to address accessibility issues on your website you need to know what they are and one of the best ways to get a birds eye view of your website’s accessibility is to run an automated audit.
The automated audit should then be followed by a manual audit to double-check the issues from the automated audit, this is a necessary practice being that automated audits are only 30% to 40% accurate and can’t detect certain accessibility issues like accurate alt tags and screen readers. Also a manual audit can catch issues that an automated audit won’t spot and also avoids false positives.
Whether you choose to use an automated audit, a manual one or a combination of both, it all works toward your website achieving the maximum level of accessibility, which should be a priority because it:
In this post, we’re going to show you 12 ways to improve the accessibility of your website.
If you’d like to get a macro overview of the accessibility of your website and know the exact changes you need to make click here to run a free accessibility audit.
Because of this your website should be fully accessible without the use of a mouse and be fully navigational by the Tab key which is the most common way of navigation via a keyboard.
It is required to have a website that is able to fully function without a keyboard due to certain users having mobility and motor skill disabilities that makes it difficult for them to perform precise movements.
When a website visitor uses the Tab key, they should be able to skip to applicable sections of the page and the tab order should match the visual order so the user can logically move through the content.
Users should have the ability to access:
The best way to test if an issue has been corrected is to try and replicate the issue by going through your own website without a mouse to see if you’re able to access every part of your site with just your keyboard.
If someone is visually impaired the alt text of an image is crucial for providing a description of the image that can be read through a screen reader. Since search engines can’t “see” images, it’s necessary to provide an accurate description of the images, this not only assists those with disabilities, but it can also have a positive effect on SEO, which in-turn can boost your company’s sales
If an image is used purely for decorative purposes, there’s no need to add an alt tag. Alt tags should only be added to important images so the screen reader can focus on just those images.
When you fail to use a proper contrast in colors, it can make it difficult for users with color blindness and other learning disabilities to find certain information. For example, someone with red-green color deficiency (deuteranopia) will not see these colors on form fields that use them to indicate required fields.
Other color blindness include:
All these types of color blindness must be taken into consideration when choosing colors for your website. You can use this color contrast tool for guidance on making your page visually accommodating for users with color blindness.
When using forms on your website you must make sure they are labeled properly and designed carefully. It’s obvious for someone who’s not visually impaired to read labels but for someone using a screen reader it may not be as straightforward.
You’ll also want to provide clear instructions on what needs to be filled out.
One of the best ways to improve your website’s accessibility is by structuring your content in a way that is easy to digest and that flows nicely for the visitor. Using headers will better help screen readers interpret your content and provide navigation.
Your H1 (top header on a page) should be the page title which describes what the overall topic of your content is about. Subheadings are labeled H2-H6 and are used to create subtopics under your main topic to further break down ideas and concepts in an organized way.
For visitors that rely on screen readers, it’s important to make contextual links as descriptive as possible. Since users are able to skip through links to find what they’re looking for, describing where a link will direct the user will provide much more clarity.
For example, instead of using the words “learn more” use “learn more about our service options by clicking here”. This not only helps with users with impaired vision, but it’s also good for SEO.
For users who have impaired hearing or no access to audio, captions are a must. Captions are able to be “open” which makes them visible whenever the video is shown and cannot be turned off. Closed captions are usually displayed over the picture and can block parts of it.
Oftentimes tables will be used on a website for just a visual display, but this can actually be confusing to screen readers because the table will be read by the number of columns and rows instead of its visual order.
You should only use tables when it’s necessary and when using tables the information should be presented using headers for rows and columns, which can better help explain the relationship between each cell.
A better alternative is to use a CSS presentation rather than a table. In addition, having captions on your table can give additional valuable information about how to better read the information displayed.
If your website is not optimized for mobile, not only will you miss out on traffic, but it can also send Google a negative sign that users are not having a good experience when they visit your website, therefore causing Google to drop the rankings of your website. To make sure users are having a good experience on your website, you should check to make sure your design is mobile-friendly you can either minimize the screen on your desktop to get a mobile view, or use a mobile-friendly tool to check. Page speed is another contributing factor when it comes to a site being mobile-friendly. To check, use the page speed insight tool.
Not every user that visits your site will be able to read your content at the font size you use. Offering users an alternative style sheet that allows them to increase the font size with no compromise to the page layout makes it easier for visually impaired users to read your content.
To truly make sure your website is accessible you’ll need to test your website for every kind of accessibility issue to ensure users can access your website across a range of disabilities. Although there are automated solutions, user testing is the best way to successfully see if your site has any compliance issues.
Our process to put you on the right path toward becoming ADA compliant starts with us running an automated audit and then following up with a free consultation to give you an overview of your level of accessibility.
We then educate you on our initial findings and exactly the issues that need to be addressed.
Once you’re aware of all the accessibility issues on your website, we conduct a manual audit where a trained expert tests every page of your website for every type of required accessibility threshold.
We then provide you with a detailed report of all our findings which will serve as a blueprint for making your website accessible.
Ready to utilize an all-inclusive service and over 12 years of experience to take the right steps toward having an accessible website? Take the first step by running a free automated audit to get an overview of your website’s accessibility.