October 12th 2022

How to Make Your Website Accessible

How to Make Your Website Accessible

Making your website as accessible as possible should be a priority for every business, if only so that more potential customers can reach you. As a business, you have legal requirements and a moral obligation to meet accessibility standards. If you only allow certain people to access your website, you are discriminating, even if this is unintentional.

Following certain guidelines to make your website accessible could also help your rankings with search engines. As well as showing inclusivity, many of the technologies used to make web pages accessible can help a search engine bot read your website and are things that digital marketers should be looking to do as part of an SEO service.

What is Accessibility on the Web?

Web accessibility involves accessibility design and developing web tools that allow people with disabilities to interact with the world wide web. You can use an online accessibility tool when creating an accessible website to highlight any problem areas you need to work on.

Areas to Consider When Making Your Website Accessible

Content Management Systems – You should choose a CMS to build your website, which allows you to be fully accessible and implement many of the features below. The website theme should provide notes on accessibility and guides for you to follow.

Structure – You should structure your content correctly: use headings appropriately (H1, H2, etc.) and only use tables for tabular data, do not use them as a way of organising your text. A screen reader will stop at every ‘table,’ alert the user that it is a table, and then read out headings before going into the content – it will not necessarily read the content in the correct order and will negatively impact the user experience.

Forms – Form fields should have a full label. If a field is required, it should be labelled as such and alert screen reader users. Unfortunately, the commonly used asterix is often not read by assistive technology and isn’t a useful indicator.

Images and Video – Use descriptive alternative text to give a clear idea of what the image is so that people with visual impairments can understand what is being shown. Videos should also have audio descriptions or text summaries.

Contrast sensitivity – Your web design should have a high contrast between foreground and background text and avoid using coding features that prevent the contrast from being increased. Be aware of colour blindness and use borders or whitespace around content to help increase the colour contrast. There are online sites that show you what your website looks like to a colourblind user.

Keyboard navigation – Keyboard navigation should be available on your website. Many assistive technologies only work with keyboards, so it should be possible to navigate your site without requiring a mouse.

Descriptive anchor text – Avoid links on simple anchor text, such as ‘click here’ – you want the anchor text to be as descriptive as possible to indicate what the user will find when following the link.

ARIA – ARIA stands for accessible rich internet applications. These are very useful in making content on your website accessible. However, they should only be used where there isn’t an equivalent in HTML5, as they will otherwise make the web page too ‘noisy’ for a visitor to use with ease.

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