According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than a billion people with some form of disability, one in four adults in the United States alone. Even if you ignore the growing lawsuits, ignore the new ADA laws that require website accessibility, and ignore the surge in traffic, it is important that your business welcomes all users. Marketer, this is you.
Unfortunately, even though these guidelines are in place, working with developers to create an ADA compliant website is not an easy task.
What are barriers to website accessibility?
Anything that blocks or restricts access to web content for people with a disability is a barrier to the accessibility of the website. There are five categories of disabilities that can hinder web access:
- Visual: This applies not only to the blind, but also to people with color blindness, epilepsy, blurred vision, etc.
- Acoustic: These include sensory, conductive, and mixed hearing loss
- Motor skills: The most common impairment is those who cannot use a mouse
- Cognitive: ranges from easy to difficult, making this the most forgotten hurdle for web developers
- Language: Especially a problem if your website is based on voice activated technology
Understanding the limitations of each can help you lay the groundwork for an accessible website.
While the following list is not exhaustive, it does include some of the most common barriers to website accessibility. Fortunately, there are many simple solutions.
Items that cannot be accessed using the keyboard
Users with visual or fine motor impairments may not be able to use a mouse, so your website should be fully keyboard navigable. For example, the tab key is used to logically move the visitor from one section to another. Most blind people rely on screen readers to consume information online – a assistive technology that does not use a mouse.
Images without corresponding alternative texts
To make a website accessible, you don’t have to go without pictures; it just requires that site designers or editors pay attention to the alt tags they assign to them. Alt tags or alt texts are short descriptions that convey the essence of an image to visually impaired web users. It is important that alternate text is clear, concise, and accurate.
Another best practice is to make sure your image caption is different from the alt text. Otherwise, the user will hear the same information twice. It’s also best to avoid showing important information as an image, such as: B. a home button that is a picture of a house.
Multimedia without subtitles or transcripts
Just like pictures, video can be a significant barrier to accessibility for many. People who are hard of hearing cannot understand the context without the help they need. This can include subtitles, transcripts, and audio descriptions. The great thing is that the software has automated the subtitling process, which makes it easier to hit that barrier over the curb.
Badly structured pages
A well-structured page uses different types of headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to accurately indicate the relationship between different areas of content. This is extremely important for users who cannot rely on sight-dependent cues.
Visually impaired web users rarely read everything on one page. Instead, they use a screen reader to search for headings and choose what to look for. For this reason, one should avoid using headings for decorative purposes and use them in the correct, descending manner.
Text that is too small to read can be a major obstacle for the visually impaired, so it should be easy for them to enlarge it. It is important not to damage the design and layout of your website in the process.
It should also be possible to display the text across devices (desktop, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch, etc.).
Small clickable areas
Hyperlinks are one of the main elements of websites that allow easy navigation. However, with small click areas, it can be difficult for people with reduced mobility to access a link. Increasing the size of these buttons can overcome this hurdle and discourage users from playing darts with their mouse.
Low color contrast
According to a study by IRIS, there are nearly 300 million people struggling with color blindness. If color is not used wisely on your website, these users may have difficulty distinguishing between different elements. Hence, it is best to use the correct color contrast between the text and the background. Avoiding clubbing shades of green and red is also recommended as most color blind people suffer from red-green deficiency.
Some online forms or registration pages contain a deadline for security reasons. However, this can result in keyboard-reliant users not having enough time to complete a task. To overcome this hurdle, work with designers to create form pages that allow users to spend more time searching when needed.
There are many reasons for making your website accessible, but unfortunately, many business owners and designers will try to compromise here, usually because they don’t understand. Consider getting your team educated first by monitoring accessiBe’s Twitter feed and W3C news. Ultimately, advocating some of these changes can not only save your business from the potential threat of lawsuits, but also help build a positive brand image and increase inclusion at the societal level.
Barriers on the web can be easily overcome with a little mindfulness. An important point to remember is that this is best done in the earliest stages of website design and development – a lot easier than later.
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor-in-Chief of Plan, Write, GO