By Anna Minton
It’s always important to ensure you reach your audience not only where they are- but in a way that works for them. Not everyone consumes information the same way- which is why website accessibility to people of all varying abilities is so important. Not only are you making sure that all potential users, despite any disabilities, can access your website, but you can make it easier for everyone to view your message and content.
There are plenty of guidelines to make sure your website is consumable by anyone, whether they are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or any other disability. Resources like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) or laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are there to ensure that all content is available, regardless of ability levels or impairments. Beyond the basics- there are some simple steps to ensure that you aren’t limiting your audience based on how easy your website is to navigate.
Create Image Descriptions
All images on your website should have a caption or short description to accompany them for those who are visually impaired. In addition, you can utilize alt text, which will be a description of the image that is displayed if the image is not able to load on the website.
Ensure Easy-to-Read Text
This involves using clear and legible fonts and appropriate font sizes to accommodate individuals with visual impairments or reading difficulties. It’s important to not just rely on color as a navigational tool or a way to differentiate text. Rather, symbols and different font sizes work better for those who are visually impaired.
Use Audio Captioning
If there are videos on your website, make sure that they all have in-sync captioning for those who have hearing impairments- so that your audience can follow along with what your video is saying. In addition, if you are utilizing podcasts or other audio content on your website, make sure that you include a transcript as well that is easily accessed by your audience.
Implement Skip Navigation
On most websites, there are a lot of elements to navigate before reaching the main content. We navigate this without thinking twice, but for those with disabilities, it can be difficult. The skip navigation feature will allow someone to skip directly to the main content. This is implemented by placing a named anchor at the point on the page where the main content begins (such as “Skip to content”). Then, place a same-page link at the beginning of the page that targets this named anchor (such as “Skip to main content”).
Take Advantage of 508 Testing.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires “all federal departments and agencies to ensure that their information and communications technology (ICT) is accessible to people with disabilities.” With this requirement, the 508 test was created to measure how accessible online communications are and to provide recommendations to increase accessibility. While your organization is not necessarily required to comply with federal regulations- there are plenty of free 508 testing alternatives available to audit your website and see if it meets the standards set.
Prioritizing website accessibility is a key to your organization’s digital success. Whenever you are creating online content, it’s important to take into account how it will be consumed by your audience- and to make sure you are setting yourself up for success. When you make sure your site is easily accessed by everyone- you open up the door to new audiences you may have never reached before.
October 19, 2023
One email. Every month. Only the best.