The advantages of having your site accessible to users are enormous. Not going too far, simply from a humane standpoint, this is an essential step to take since it guarantees that persons with impairments are not excluded.
Of course, there are several advantages to boosting accessibility on your website. Most importantly, it immediately broadens your target audience.
Why Accessibility Matters
1. Expand your audience
Firstly, according to the World Health Organization, around 15% of the world population has some level of disability. Thus, you can dramatically increase your prospective user base by improving your website accessibility and allowing additional users to utilize your site. This is a great chance to put yourself ahead of your competitors, stand out and gain a competitive advantage, as, according to WebAim, 98% of the world’s top million websites don’t offer full accessibility.
2. Improves the user experience
Secondly, through implementing the required accessibility improvements, you help all of your visitors: not just those that meet the categories we described before. Many factors that go into improving website accessibility will also help you enhance its overall design and user experience.
Additionally, Google’s Core Web Vitals update suggests that as more weight is given to metrics like page speed and stability, other user experience factors will become more relevant. So, to future-proof your website, implementing accessibility best practices will be an inseparable part of your SEO strategy.
4. Follow regulations
Finally, it’s worth noting that many states have regulations governing web accessibility. Thus, you may be legally obligated to comply with certain website accessibility standards.
On this note, it’s important to mention that since 1997, the Web Accessibility Initiative has been trying to enhance several website accessibility standards. You can find Web Content Accessibility Guidelines on their website, generally known as WCAG. These recommendations detail the measures you may take to improve the usability of your website. Similarly, WordPress has its own Make WordPress Accessible team dedicated to making your platform more accessible.
9 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible
Now, we’ll take a look at website accessibility examples and nine quick strategies to make your website more accessible.
Before going to the main topic of today’s discussion, it’s worth noting that selecting the appropriate Content Management System (CMS) for your website is one of the first steps you should take. This article primarily includes WordPress-specific examples. The reason behind this is quite simple: only a few Content Management Systems can compete with WordPress in terms of accessibility. Now, let’s dive into the techniques we recommend employing to make your website more inclusive and accessible.
Before jumping into a website redesign, its best to go in with a clear idea of your return on investment.
1. Make Sure Your Site Is Keyboard-Friendly
Making your website keyboard-friendly is one of the most prominent parts you should consider. In short, to be accessible, a website must function without using a mouse. This is because many assistive devices rely solely on keyboard navigation. Thus, it is vital to ensure that all of your website’s essential elements, including pages, links, and content, are accessible solely through a keyboard.
The Tab key is the most frequent way to navigate using a keyboard. This toggles between the elements of your page that can be keyboard-focused, such as links, forms, and buttons. Therefore, if you want to make your website more accessible, making sure that “Tab” can navigate around your online content should be one of your primary objectives.
If you are interested in testing your website’s accessibility in terms of “Tab”, then simply visit your website without using a mouse. If you can’t access particular components or are having trouble navigating through solely using your keyboard, you should locate the problem and fix it.
2. Make Sure All Content Is Easily Accessible
Moreover, checking that all material on your website is accessible, in addition to making your site keyboard-friendly, will help out. This can especially become a problem when your page is full of dynamic content.
In a nutshell, content is dynamic if it can change on its own, without refreshing the page. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it can pose a problem when the website does not notify assistive tools about the change. Many screen readers, for example, will only “read” a webpage as it appears when it first loads. Thus considering the potential difficulties and inconveniences it might cause, you should notify when something changes. Otherwise, your users won’t keep pace with the new material.
Using ARIA landmarks is one method to do this. In other words, ARIA landmarks are tags you apply to your content to define them on your homepage. So, you can tag your website’s dynamic content as a “live region”, thus letting screen readers and various assistive technologies interpret and understand the content as it changes.
ARIA is also significant for making navigation easier since it allows users to jump right to the material they want. They won’t have to go through every menu item to get to your primary content, and users will be able to skip other link-heavy areas.
Although skip-to-main links, also known as invisible links that allow users to skip menus, can have the same result, ARIA is more adaptable and efficient. It’s also worth mentioning that ARIA landmarks are automatically included in all WordPress themes that use the accessibility-ready tag.
3. Be Careful With Colours
Colour blindness is frequently interpreted as a black-and-white issue. However, various individuals interpret colours in different ways – remember The Dress? Thus, ensuring that the colours you choose for your website contrast effectively, enabling everyone to identify between the various items on the page, is of utmost importance to website accessibility standards.
The most immediate concern is ensuring that your text is visible against the dark backdrop of your website. For instance, you can set a dark hue over a bright background and make sure they never bleed into one another.
Let’s assume you wish to go with an orange theme. Ideally, you should avoid developing a palette with colours too close in shade and saturation. Otherwise, you will get something similar to this:
Moreover, you may select and test colour combinations using various internet tools. We would recommend Contrast Checker and WebAIM, both of which provide you with a score in real-time. WebAIM even allows the users to switch to monochrome to obtain a general notion of how successful every specific combo is.
4. Use The Right Heading Tags
Another crucial step in making your site more accessible is structuring your information using headers. This will improve the flow of your text and make it much easier to grasp and consume.
Clear headers also aid screen readers in interpreting your pages. This makes providing in-page navigation much more accessible. It’s simple to implement because all you have to do is ensure your content has the appropriate heading levels.
For example, just one H1 should be used on every page, generally as the page title. In short, your content should be structured by nested subheadings beginning with H2 and gradually decreasing to H3 and so on. To be more precise, you should never use an H1 after an H3 since they should always be used in the right order (See the example below).
5. Design Your Forms for Accessibility
Forms are, indeed, a great feature to add to most websites, but they must be built properly. Appropriately labelling each field is essential. Putting the labels next to the relevant fields is also a good idea. While a sighted visitor can link a label to the matching field without any difficulties, people using screen readers may not be able to do so.
6. Use Tables Only for Tabular Data
Tables can help display data. They make parsing enormous amounts of data considerably easier for all users, even those who require assistive technologies and devices. However, making your tables as simple as possible is essential to get the most out of them.
First and foremost, ideally, you should use tables for tabular data only. In short, avoid using tables for layouts, lists, or any other purpose, since screen readers and other similar technologies may be confused by this.
If you need to develop more complicated tables, you can use W3’s instructions. These instructions will help you learn how to code a table while adhering to accessibility guidelines.
7. Implement Resizable Texts Without Breaking Your Website Design
Users with visual impairments can benefit from the option of resizing text on most devices and browsers. On the other hand, resizing text might ruin your design if you don’t develop it to go hand in hand with this feature.
For instance, we would recommend avoiding absolute units, such as defining font size in pixels and points. Instead, according to WebAim, it is better to use relative units to define your font sizes. Those include percentages and ems, which give you freedom when changing the visual presentation with CSS. Moreover, it’s also a bad idea to disable user scalability because it makes it harder for users to resize the text in general.
To make sure your site satisfies these website accessibility standards and your text doesn’t become ineligible after enlarging it, increase the zoom level in your browser and test your font sizes. If you discover that your materials become difficult to read or navigate, have a look at these WebAIM guidelines on font sizes.
8. Add Alt Text to All Images
Besides being a replacement for images when they fail to load, alt texts are used by Screen readers to “read” the images as well. Therefore, you may use this field to describe a picture, providing context to people who might otherwise be unaware of it.
Using alt text on your images not only improves the user experience but may also help you with image SEO. While image recognition technologies have improved over time, search crawlers still can’t “see” the images on a website page as people can, so it’s not a good idea to completely rely on them for interpretation. Thus writing informative explanations for each image and using keywords whenever possible would be a great idea. Below you can find a website accessibility example for Alt texts:
Good: <img src=”theoffice.jpg” alt=”Michael The Office”>
Better: <img src=”theoffice.jpg” alt=”Michael Scott from The Office”>
The one: <img src=”theoffice.jpg” alt=”Michael Scott from The Office makes a weird face”>
9. Avoid Automatic Media and Navigation
Not only annoying to all visitors, automatically playing media and video content pose an issue in terms of accessibility.
Firstly, finding out how to switch off the media might be challenging while using a screen reader. Secondly, users may be confused or disturbed by the sudden noise. So, avoiding items and elements that start without the user’s permission would be a good decision.
Moreover, automatic navigation, such as carousels and sliders, should also be avoided. Ultimately, this is because wasting extra time to understand all the information before sliding into subsequent sections can be very annoying.
In this article, we have discussed why making your website comply with website accessibility standards is essential and provide you with a handy guide including nine ways to make it more accessible. Of course, all this is peppered with relevant website accessibility examples to make this journey much easier for you.
Overall, you should make sure your website is accessible to as many individuals as possible. Once you have built an accessible website, not only will your users appreciate it, but you’ll most likely experience improved traffic and conversion rates, too. All that is because the tools and techniques employed to enhance accessibility are also quite useful for your overall user experience and SEO.
Accessibility is ensuring that your website is usable for as many people as possible regardless of disability.
Some common examples of features for accessibility include image alt text, keyboard accessibility and
sequential heading tags.