Designing a website that’s easily accessible to everyone is not only a moral responsibility but also a legal obligation for a business. Just like the normal, disabled people also represent a large market share and thus beginning to demand a better online accessibility. Bill Stilwater, the founder of Computers for Handicapped Internet Program, says that Internet access “makes the difference between living and just existing” for many disabled people.
Recently, Harris Poll also founded in its study that in America disabled people spend twice as much time on the Internet as those without any disability. Due to the advancement of the Internet, it has become easy for the people with visual problems to get an access to the information including social interaction, and online shopping. They are also loyal and promising customers.
In this article, we are going to discuss about some simple techniques and methods that will help you make your website accessible to people with disabilities.
Guidelines for Making Websites Reachable to Visual Impaired People
The rules laid down by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for the web version 2.0 has clearly recommended on making websites and their content more accessible. Both government and public organizations need to follow these guidelines so that their content remain handy to a wider range of people dealing with some kind of disabilities, including blindness, low version, deafness, hearing loss, learning problems, speech disabilities etc.
Not only this, but you as users can also provide your feedback to the organization to help them improve the accessibility of their website for many other people who use them. Website owners can take strong steps for improvement, and the more an organization gets feedback and understands about the issues related to the accessibility, the better are the chances they will work positively towards it.
In fact, there are so many website owners who are not aware about such concerns and thus underestimate the importance of increasing the reachability of their website. In some of the countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Europe, Finland, France etc., have formed certain policies to make websites accessible to all members of society, including people with disabilities, so that they are able to make the most out of the Internet medium.
What Should be the Design of Your Website
1. Focus on Text Equivalent
Designers need to focus on providing a text that’s equivalent to the information that is being presented on the website with graphics, videos etc. Using comprehensive texts to describe the content or function related to it, will help your audience understand whatever is presented on your website. For example, if you are providing a chart that depicts the company’s gross sales increased up to 25% for the last one year, you can make use of descriptive text in your ALT tag (‘sales up by 25% in FY2011) instead of merely giving it a name “sales graphic chart”.
Avoid using colors simply as a primary means of providing information. If you display out of stock items in green color, make sure you group them together under a specific text section header with the title: “Product Catalog”. Be wise while selecting colors and their combinations because poorly displayed colors can create problems for the people with color blindness.
A clear and welldesigning labeling of links is extremely important in order to guide your visitors throughout your website. And, if you are using an image, the role of links become all the more pivotal. A graphic of the payment options should clearly indicate that it links to the payment options through which you can shop. This way you can easily guide your users and help them reach their goals on your website.
4. Opting for a CMS That Ensures Accessibility
There are so many CMS available such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and many other that help you build websites. While choosing a CMS, make sure its themes, plugins or extensions provide an adequate support to those who have visual problems. You can also carefully go through over the theme documentation for tips on content accessibility and layouts for the themes you choose. Also, it is recommended to follow the guidelines provided by WCAG on accessibility while selecting themes and plugins.
Tools for Improving Website Accessibility
To ensure maximum amount of accessibility, designers are provided with some tools and resources that help them get multiple views of their webpage with alerts and errors.
- 508 Checker– quickly check a webpage for 508 compliance.
- Accessibility Color Wheel- great in providing various combinations for colors.
- Accessibility Management Platform- a web based platform designed to provide solutions to meet the section 508, Americans with Disability and WCAG.
- Accessin- A highend tool that help in maintaining the accessibility of websites and also reporting if any error occurs.
Web owners shouldn’t overlook accessibility issues if they want to stay ahead of the market competition. Accessibility should be treated as a core of their website designing process and should start right from the step of wireframing.