Web accessibility has been in the news quite a bit in the last few years. Accessible websites simply imply to the one that individuals with disabilities can perceive, operate and understand. These online platforms work well for people who use assistive technologies like screen readers, as well as offer alternative mediums for other impairments. It also allows for navigation using devices other than a mouse. When websites and online tools are properly designed and coded, individuals with disabilities can use them. Unfortunately, even today many sites and tools are developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or even impossible for certain people to use. Companies like AccessiBe have cropped up over the years to make the web accessible for all.
The first thing that most people take into consideration while discussing web accessibility is the usability of the site for visitors who are visually impaired. But one must note that visual impairment is only one disability category. Physical, cognitive and auditory impairments are equally vital and have to be addressed in proper ways. People having such impairments often use distinctive assistive devices that help them in navigating the web with ease. Accessible websites work well with these devices and strive to provide a user experience that reduces the need for assistive devices in the first place.
Here are a few elements that can help to make websites more accessible:
- Add images with Alt Text: A picture might be worth a thousand words, but visual elements like images are an accessibility barrier to people with vision impairments. They usually have to depend on technologies like Screen Readers and refreshable Braille Readers. But none of them can read images or the text in the images. Hence, it is better to add Alt Text to describe images featured on a web page.
- Allow users to enlarge font sizes: People with low vision often face issues in reading small text. Hence, they generally use specific font settings when browsing the web. Providing an alternative style sheet with the feature of enlarging font size without breaking the page layout makes it easier for people to read the content.
- Keep contrast sensitivity in mind: Color and contrast should also be taken into account along with the text size. Individuals having vision impairments such as, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract tend to have low color contrast sensitivity. When designing the web pages, one must try to have a high contrast between the foreground and background, for instance yellow letters on a black background.
Proper planning and techniques are vital to building high-quality, usable websites. It requires thoughtfulness, as well as good use of resources offered by companies like AccessiBe. Accessible websites additionally are more easily indexed by the Google search engines which can ultimately contribute to better matches and higher rankings. Hence, by making their website accessible, a company can also support their SEO strategy.