You may be surprised to hear it, but the internet isn’t accessible to everyone. Every day, poor website design makes millions of websites inaccessible to disabled citizens, leading to a frustrating online experience. For people with learning difficulties, visual impairments, hearing problems and more, the internet presents a lot of challenges that really shouldn’t be there. Ensuring your website is disability-friendly is easier than you think, and we are going to provide some advice on how to get started in this article.
1. Use Alt Tags
When you hover your mouse over an image on a website, the words that appear are called Alt tags. While they may not mean a lot outside of SEO to the average user, for someone with visibility impairment they help to explain what the image contains. This is especially useful for those who use screen readers, which read out what the Alt tags say. Ensure you explain what the picture is, such as ‘dog catching ball’ to provide a good experience.
2. Add Subtitles to Videos
If you regularly publish a lot of videos on your website, it’s a good idea to add subtitles to make them accessible to those with a hearing impairment. Video hosting sites like YouTube offer tools that enable you to do this easily, which is ideal if you make a lot of your own content. To go one step further, you could also publish the transcript of your videos on your site as well. According to the website accessibility company Atlas Accessibility, 7,600,000 Americans suffer from hearing impairments while 8,100,000 Americans suffer from vision impairment; making this small change could make your website accessible to millions of more people.
3. Describe Your Links
Wherever possible, it’s best to describe what you are linking to as opposed to just writing ‘click here’. When you do the former, it makes it easier for visual impairment software to explain the link to the user. Another good idea here is to ensure the links are coloured in a stand out the color to the text; this will make it easier for colour-blind users to find them, as opposed to having to hover over the text. Most websites use black (text) and blue (links) as standard, but some switch this up for aesthetic reasons when it’s really not needed.
4. Be Wary of Colors
Following on from the point above, you’ll also want to consider the colours you use in your main design. Be wary of pairing green, blue and yellow as this can make it difficult for colour-blind users to navigate your site. Remember, black text on a white background is the standard practice because it makes the text accessible for most users.
5. Keep Your Copy Easy to Read
Finally, this is a point that a lot of website readers should consider; ensure your copy is easy to read. Not only does this help elderly users, but it also helps those with learning disabilities. Although this won’t work for every site, depending on the content being covered, it does apply to the majority. Unless you run a specialist site, consider writing in the active voice, using small sentences and paragraphs, and using straightforward language. Your audience will thank you for it.