What is Web Accessibility?
Website accessibility focuses on making every website accessible to everyone. Over a billion people today experience a disability, according to the World Health Organization. That’s about 1 in 7 people on the entire planet! This astounding statistic emphasizes the need for websites to become accessible for users with different abilities.
While there are a lot of disabilities and conditions that can affect the way people use websites, let’s take a look at some of the most common categories of impairments:
- Visual Impairment: This includes a partial or total inability to see, to distinguish color, or perceive contrasts.
- Hearing Impairment: This includes a partial or total inability to hear.
- Physical Disabilities: This includes difficulty in moving body parts, including making precise movements (such as when using a mouse).
- Cognitive Disabilities: There are also many conditions that affect cognitive ability, such as dementia and dyslexia.
How Can You Improve the Web Accessibility of Your Website?
- Add alternative text to your images.
Alternative text (commonly called alt-text) provides a text alternative to non-text content on websites, like images and buttons. Screen readers can read the alt-text to the user.
- Add captions & transcripts to your images and videos.
Captions are text versions of audio content synchronized with video. Transcripts allow anyone that cannot access audio or video content to read a text version instead.
- Use descriptive link text (avoid "click here").
Writing good link text can help your users understand what text is linked and clues to where that link will lead them to.
- Use headings to structure your content.
Headings add structure and meaning to pages. Heading tags allow screen reader users to jump to the sections they’re interested in.
- Write clear, easily understandable text.
Clear content is accessible content—it's that simple. If your content is simple and concise, a larger audience will be able to access it.
- Choose your colors wisely.
- Use tables for tabular data only (use table headers and captions too).
Don't' use tables for layout purposes. Tables used for layout purposes add bloat which means nothing to screen readers.
- Make areas that need to be clicked larger.
Precision moves with a mouse can be a difficult action for a user with a physical disability.
The WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool is an easy-to-use tool that gives you feedback about your website. Simply go to http://wave.webaim.org/, enter your web page URL, and hit the button to get feedback on your page’s accessibility. I ran my website through the WAVE tool and I now have a list of things that I need to change to make it more accessible.
Click on each poster to view the larger version. The larger version will open up in a new tab. Posters courtesy of UK.gov.