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How To Make Your Website Accessible in Just 10 Minutes

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Make Your Website Accessible in 10 Minutes

Website accessibility is a huge issue, but one most people don't think much about. Imagine for a moment that you have limited mobility. Maybe you can't use a mouse, and the only way you can navigate a computer is by tapping a single keyboard key at a time.

Try it out. Click the arrow buttons to scroll up and down. Use tab to move from one link to the next. Click the enter key to follow a link. It's not as easy as rolling your mouse wheel or swiping your tablet, but by using just those four keys you can navigate everything on this site. Can the same be said of your own website?

If there is anything on your website that can't be accessed with the up, down, tab, and enter keys, that feature may be inaccessible to millions of internet users. For the rest of us, there's a fair chance if it's frustrating or inconvenient to use, we'll just skip it — meaning you've wasted your efforts.

Now close your eyes and try to read your website. Okay, we know that's not a fair test. There are plenty of tools out there to help visually impaired persons enjoy web content. But is your website ready for them? Are your links appropriately labeled? Will your pictures cause problems? Is there enough contrast between your text and background colors? According to the World Health Organization, there are 285 million people with visual impairment. That's a lot of potential visitors who you could be excluding!

There are hundreds of reasons someone may have trouble viewing or navigating your website. Trying to meet all of those needs may seem like an impossible task, but modern Web design tools are making it easier than ever to create a website that virtually anyone can read and enjoy.

Find out how you can quickly and easily make your website accessible, increasing your potential readership by hundreds of millions of web users.

Make Your Website Accessible in 10 Minutes

Make Your Website Accessible in 10 Minutes

Every website visitor is different, but many people have disabilities that directly affect their use of your website. These impairments include blindness, deafness and motor control problems. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to make your website accessible to people with physical limitations, and it isn't hard, either. Here is all you need to know, below. You won't just be making your site better for those with disabilities, you will be making it better for everyone.

Accessibility Issues

  • The Internet allows greater access to information and community than ever before, especially to those with disabilities
    • The UN has declared that internet accessibility for disabled people is a fundamental human right
    • But someone who is blind cannot read a website, and someone who is deaf cannot enjoy a podcast
  • In the US alone:
    • Roughly 1 in 5 people have hearing loss in one or both ears
      • This is approximately 48 million people
    • More than 7.3 million Americans have significant vision loss
      • In addition to partial or complete blindness, approximately 13.6 million Americans are color-blind
  • Accessibility needs are diverse and can include personal and technological situations that make using the web difficult, such as:
    • Deafness
    • Learning difficulties
    • Motor skills deficiencies
    • Blindness/vision impairment
    • Cognitive/learning disorders
    • Poor internet connection
    • Mobile access only (phones or tablets)

Benefits of Accessible Sites

  • May be legally required to be accessible to disabled users, such as:
    • Government websites
    • Educational institutions and organizations
    • Industry and nonprofit organizations
  • Easier for search engines to crawl
    • Search engine spiders, like some users with disabilities, can't view pictures
    • Accessibility features like alt text will help them crawl the site, and could help the website's search engine ranking
  • Increases usability for all users
    • Making a website as simple to use as possible will benefit everyone who interacts with it - regardless of whether they have disabilities
  • Boost website's social standing and generate good PR
    • An organization or business that has an accessible website can market itself as being socially responsible

Online Accessibility Tools

  • Some disabled users have their own tools and devices to make using the internet easier, such as:
    • Screen readers, which transpose webpage text to spoken audio
      • Mac - VoiceOver
      • PC - Thunder
    • Custom keyboards, mice, or voice control for users with motor issues
  • For users who do not have special tools, some websites have been designed to have features that make them easier to use, including:
    • Zoom or text size options in web browsers and smartphones
    • Closed Captioning
      • YouTube allows users to click the CC icon to the bottom-right of the video to enable this feature
    • Dyslexie font
      • A font designed by a dyslexic person for dyslexic people
      • The font uses letters that are less confusing for dyslexic people to read

Web Accessibility Made Easy

  • Use straightforward design and content.
    • Clearly labeled navigation links
    • Clutter-free layouts
      • Use as few elements as possible to convey your message
        • Every image, sound, button, or link could become a hurdle for a disabled user
        • Additionally, fewer images mean faster load times for users with slow internet speeds
    • Ensure that your content can be easily read and understood
      • Good contrast between text and background
      • Simple, easy-to-read font choices
  • Attach alternate text for images
    • Alternate text appears when you hover the mouse over most images.
    • Describes the image
      • Will help users who may have technological limitations or visual impairment
      • Screen readers can access the alternate text to convert to audio
  • Make your site navigable without a mouse
    • Some users may not be able to use a computer mouse
    • Designing for keyboard input keeps your design simple
    • Tab, Enter, and the arrow keys should be enough to navigate your site
  • Be careful with colors
    • Colors can be helpful for those with learning disabilities
      • Well-organized text, colors, and symbols or icons can make your message more accessible
    • But don't rely on colors alone to convey your message
      • Screen readers can't distinguish colors and won't pass on that information
      • They are no use for color-blind users
    • Unless your site is solely image-based, it's best practice to use text whenever possible
  • Don't have video or audio automatically play
    • This is especially challenging to those who may struggle to find the source
    • And it is annoying to everyone else
  • Be aware of responsive design
    • Use cascading style sheets (CSS) tools to allow your site to automatically change how it displays based on the device it is being viewed on
      • Test this on multiple screen sizes (Phone / Tablet / Laptop)
  • Make sure link text tells a user where the link points to
    • Something that says "Click here," for example, isn't very descriptive
    • "Link to Amazon home page" is more helpful
      • Use a link title
  • Put yourself in a disabled visitor's shoes
    • Download a screen reader like JAWS (free for 30 days), turn off your monitor, and try to navigate your website
      • This is what your website "looks like" to a blind user
      • Pay special attention to how images are described
        • Do they still make sense, from their alt text alone?
      • Text contained within graphics may be "invisible" to blind users
    • Use a color-blindness simulator like Coblis to get a better understanding of what color-blind users see when they navigate your site
      • Are your navigation buttons visually distinct from the background?
      • Is your text readable?
    • If your site uses videos, ensure that captioning is available
      • Otherwise, see how much sense they make with your computer's sound turned off
    • Try to navigate your site using only Tab, Enter, and the arrow keys
      • Are there any pages that are difficult or impossible to get to?

Whether for commerce, education, or entertainment, building a website that everyone can utilize should be a high priority. Accommodating the widest range of users is critical to building strong online communities and attracting new customers to your business.

Sources: colourblindawareness.org, thewholebraingroup.com, wwhearing.org, lighthouse.org, un.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, nfb.org, census.gov, w3.org, joeclark.org, fcc.gov, screenreader.net, support.apple.com, webaccess.berkley.edu, freedomscientific.com, entrepreneur.com, color-blindness.com, webaim.org


Jaramy Conners

About Jaramy Conners

Jaramy has been a technical writer for many years, specializing in privacy, identity theft, blogging, business, and communications writing. But he's also a children's writer. His short story "Steve" won the Hunger Mountain Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing. He lives with his wife in upstate New York.


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Marsha Hackathorn

July 18, 2017

Thank you, this is a fantastic post. Very informative in a simplified and enjoyable reading format. I am planning on sharing with a group of college risk managers as a resource.
Marsha Hackathorn