• Website Accessibility

How to Make Your Website Accessible 

Written by Katie Buckingham

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), marked on Thursday 19th May 2022, is an annual event that brings attention to the importance of digital and website accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. It is celebrated on the third Thursday of May each year.

There are many ways to get involved in GAAD, including:

  • Writing about accessibility or inclusive web design on your blog or website
  • Sharing articles and resources about accessibility on your social media channels
  • Setting aside time for your team to learn about accessibility standards for websites

 

No matter how you choose to get involved, GAAD is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of digital accessibility.

As a digital agency specialising in web design, we’re committed to demystifying web accessibility and giving practical advice to help you increase accessibility on your organisation’s site.

In our blog we cover some of the key areas to think about to make your website more accessible.  

 

Celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022

 

Firstly, what is website accessibility? 

Website accessibility refers to the ability of a website to be accessed by everyone – crucially, including those with disabilities.

It is essential to ensure that websites are accessible to make sure that there are no engagement or access barriers for people with disabilities.

And to ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is being championed by different organisations and sectors.  

The key areas of website accessibility to consider are set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

These web accessibility guidelines set out four main principles which explain that web content must be POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) in order to effectively meet website accessibility standards. 

 

How can you make your website content easy to perceive? 

Website content must be perceivable in order to be accessible.

This means that information and user interface (UI) components must be presented to users in ways they can easily see. 

There are a few key areas to consider to make your website easier to perceive and therefore accessible: 

 

Use of colour 

When it comes to website accessibility, one of the key considerations is use of colour.

In the UK, this disability affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. For those with red-green colour deficiency (also known as Colour Blindness), certain colours can be indistinguishable from each other.

This can make it difficult to navigate website content, especially on sites with nonstandard layouts, or those with high text content.

 

How can you make your website more accessible for those who are colour blind?

There are some key actions that website owners can take to make their site more accessible for those with colour blindness.

Firstly, using a larger font size can help make text more legible. Secondly, avoiding the use of red and green together in website design can help reduce confusion – along with other problematic combinations.

And finally, using high contrast colours can also be helpful in making website content more accessible. There are a number of tools available online which can help you get started with this. 

When reviewing your website for accessibility, keep these tips in mind to ensure that everyone can enjoy your content.

 

Including alt text 

When uploading images to a website, it is important to also include alt text. To most users, alt text simply appears when the cursor is left to linger over an image, but this text serves a vital accessibility function. It allows people who are blind or have low vision to be able to understand what the image is showing using a screen reader. It also helps those with cognitive disabilities, as the alt text can provide context for the image.

 

How can you create good alt text?

To create good alt text, make sure that it is descriptive and accurate. It should be short, yet still convey all the important information about the image. 

If the image is complex, such as a chart or graph, you may need to provide more detailed alt text. In this case, it is best to provide a short description of the image, followed by a longer explanation of what it shows.

Alt text is an important part of creating accessible websites. By taking the time to add this extra bit of information, you can help ensure that everyone can access and understand your site. 

 

Alt text is shown written on a keyboard

 

How can you make your website content easy to operate? 

Ensuring website content is operable, means that all components and navigation can be used by people with disabilities. For example making sure that people with physical disabilities who may not be able to use a mouse are still able to navigate the website.

There are a few key areas to consider when improving the operability of your website: 

 

Enabling keyboard navigation 

Ensuring your website is fully operable via keyboard is essential for disabled users with motor impairments who aren’t able to use a mouse. It is also essential for blind users who use assistive technologies. 

Making sure that your website enables keyboard navigation will remove this access barrier for users with these disabilities, and ensure that these users can also navigate through and explore your website. 

 

Considering epileptic users 

Seizures can be caused by a range of triggers, but when considering web content there are a number of ways to ensure that your content is accessible for epileptic users. Content that flashes can trigger photosensitive epilepsy. This can include video content, animations and GIFs. It’s also important to consider the use of certain visual patterns such as stripes which can be triggering for users with epilepsy or vestibular conditions. 

If you do have to make use of flashing images or animations, it is important to provide an opt-out, trigger warning, or alternative version of your site before this content is displayed.

 

How can you make your website content easy to understand? 

It is important that website content is understandable so that the user interface (UI) is easy for disabled users to operate and understand. 

Some key areas to think about are: 

 

Designing accessible forms 

Website forms should be designed to be accessible and understandable to as many people as possible.

But how can you ensure that your website forms are designed in an accessible way? 

  • Ensure that forms are enabling keyboard navigation so that users can tab between fields 
  • Use simple, clear language. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.
  • Make sure form labels are clearly visible and associated with the relevant form fields.
  • Use input field types that are appropriate for the data you want to collect (e.g. text, number, email, etc.).
  • Provide clear instructions on what data is required in each field.
  • Allow users to correct errors before submission.
  • Use CAPTCHA sparingly, and only when absolutely necessary. If you do use CAPTCHA, make sure it can be accessed by assistive technologies.
  • Thank users for completing the form.

 

Following these tips will help to make your website forms more accessible to a wider range of users.

 

Use of headings to increase website accessibility 

Headings are a great way to increase the accessibility of your website. And will be helping people who are vision-impaired or have other disabilities that make it difficult to read standard text.

By using headings, you can provide a clear structure for your content, which makes it easier for everyone to find the information they need.

Headings can also be used to improve the usability of your website. By using headings, you can help people navigate your site more easily. This is especially important for people who are using screen readers or other assistive technologies.

 

How to use headings correctly

When you use headings, it is important to use them correctly.

The most important heading on your page should be the H1 heading. This is the heading that will be used by screen readers and other assistive technologies to identify the main title and content of your page.

All other headings should be subordinate to the H1 heading, and there should never be more than one H1 on a page. This means other titles  should be smaller in size and have less importance. H2 headings should be used for the second level of titling on your most important heading on your page, and so on.

 

How can you make your website content robust? 

Making sure that website content is robust means that it has the capabilities to adapt effectively and remain accessible in the future. 

Within this principle, it’s important to think about: 

 

Choosing an accessible content management system (CMS) 

Content management systems (CMS) play a big role in determining how accessible a website is. And ensuring you choose a content management system which champions accessibility is an important method of making sure your website can adapt and meet accessibility requirements both now and in the future. 

There are a number of CMS options that support accessibility out-of-the-box or with minimal configuration.

 

Choosing WordPress to improve accessibility

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms and it has good accessibility support.

The WordPress core software is compliant with many accessibility standards, and there are a number of plugins available to further improve accessibility. 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all CMS platforms. Some require significant configuration or customisation to meet even basic accessibility standards. Others have very poor support for accessibility and should be avoided where possible. 

It is important to consider the level of accessibility support that is available when choosing a CMS.

WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! are all good choices to ensure your organisation is meeting accessibility standards. However, there are many other options available, so be sure to do your research before making a decision.

 

 

Check your website accessibility today 

It will take time to review and understand how to improve your website accessibility. But it is important to remember that everyone should have equal access to information and resources. 

By taking the time to make your website accessible, you are ensuring that everyone can enjoy and benefit from your website, regardless of their ability.

If you’re not sure where to start and need some help from an agency committed to website accessibility, drop us a note – we’d love to hear from you. 

 

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