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In this day and age, making sure your business website is accessible to all users is essential for providing a positive user experience and reaching the widest possible audience. Accessible design not only benefits those with disabilities, but it also helps to improve usability and overall functionality for everyone… while protecting you and your business from costly lawsuits.
What are Accessible Websites?
Website accessibility refers to the practice of designing websites that can be accessed by people with disabilities like vision, hearing, mobility, or cognition impairment. A truly accessible website should be able to accommodate assistive technologies like screen readers, speech recognition software, and alternative input devices.
Why are Accessible Websites Important?
An accessible website allows people of all abilities full access to your business’s information, products, and services from your website. In 2019, there were over one billion people worldwide with some form of disability. By designing an accessible website, you ensure that this largely forgotten segment of the population can access your content, products, and services. As businesses move more of their everyday operations online, accessible websites have become increasingly important.
Designing With Accessibility in Mind
Website accessibility starts with understanding the needs of users with disabilities. Here are some best practices for creating an accessible website for your business:
- Start With Semantic HTML: Semantic HTML uses descriptive tags that help screen readers interpret content more accurately. For example, using semantic tags like <h1>, <h2>, <p>, <section>, <article>, <nav>, etc. makes it easier for screen readers to help disabled viewers navigate through your site’s content.
- Use Alt Text for Images: Alternative text (alt text) provides a textual description of images on a web page. Screen readers use alt text to describe what an image represents, so it’s essential to include them for accessibility purposes.
- Choose Colors Carefully: Color contrast is critical for users with low vision or color blindness. Use high-contrast colors between text and background elements, making sure that the text is easy to read against the background.
- Make Your Site Keyboard Accessible: Some users rely on keyboards for navigation instead of a mouse. Ensure that your site is keyboard accessible by allowing users to navigate using the tab key, and provide clear instructions on how to do so.
- Use Descriptive Links: When creating links, ensure that they are descriptive and give users an accurate idea of where the link will take them. Think about all of the websites that have buttons that simply say “Click Here”.
- Provide Captions for Videos and Audio: Captions are essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Providing captions or transcripts for videos and audio content makes it more accessible to these users.
- Test Your Site With Assistive Technologies: Testing your website with assistive technologies can help identify any areas where accessibility may be lacking. Screen readers, magnifiers, and voice recognition software can all be used to test accessibility.
Designing with accessibility in mind is crucial for creating positive user experiences on your website while ensuring inclusivity for all users, regardless of their abilities. By incorporating best practices like semantic HTML, alt text for images, accessible color contrast, keyboard accessibility, descriptive links, captions for videos and audio, and testing with assistive technologies; you can create a website that’s easy to use by everyone. Remember:
- Not all disabilities are visible.
- Designing an accessible site doesn’t have to be difficult.
- Accessible design benefits everyone.
- An accessible website improves usability across devices.
- Making accessibility part of your design process isn’t just good practice – it’s the right thing to do.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I offer free design and marketing advice and am happy will help you to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with identifying the right designer for your business.
Thank you for reading and best of luck on your business journey!