How to make your website more accessibility friendly
By Lucy Wyndham
Making your website accessibility friendly is incredibly important now that people are more reliant on technology and online services. It is now common practice to turn to the web to access a range of different resources and industries such as education, business, healthcare, entertainment and employment. Accessible website design is therefore critical to ensure that no one is limited by their disability when it comes to accessing important online services.
Understanding user needs
The key to website accessibility is to firstly understand the needs and potential issues that may make it difficult for some user to access your services, in order to be able to cater for and accommodate everyone without exceptions so you can be welcoming to all visitors.
Being keyboard friendly
This first step is the most important because many assistive technologies rely on keyboard navigation only. So in order for your website to be accessibility friendly, users need to be able to use all of the websites major features without the use of a mouse, this includes accessing all content such as pages, pop outs and links. Your goal should be to make sure that all content can be navigated via the ‘tab’ key, which is the most common way of navigating using a keyboard
Making your website accessible to the visually impaired
In order to cater for the visually impaired, you should add alt text to all images so that pictures can be read. In fact all of the key content on your website needs to be made accessible in audio form.
Many visually impaired users will access websites that have special high-contrast web browsers, screen readers or by substituting CSS styles with a set of rules that are designed to remove visual barriers, in this case you should make sure that all essential information is delivered separately from CSS files.
Being mindful of colour
Forms that use colour to identify different fields could pose a problem for people that are colour blind or using a screen reader, so be mindful of this when choosing colours for different parts of your website.
You should also make sure to build your website to support a word resizing feature, which is a function that visually impaired people will use often to blow the text up to a size that is comfortable and easy for them to read whenever necessary.
Displaying data in forms
Forms are a common feature for most websites and it is important to make sure that they are designed carefully so that they can accessed by everyone. It is important to make sure each field is clearly labels, placed right next to their respective fields so it is easy to match the label to the corresponding field. You should also aim to provide clear instructions and information in a way that all users can easily understand. You could use a tool such as the Caldera Forms builder in WordPress which is designed with an accessibility focus in mind.
Limiting the use of tables
While tables can be useful for people with assistive technology to parse large amounts of data, they can sometimes become confusing if they are used for anything other than tabular data. You should avoid using tables for layouts, list or anything else where it is not essential as otherwise it can be confusing to screen readers.