Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality (Wikipedia).
According to Pew Research, nearly 40 million Americans had a disability in 2015. That is a pretty sizable portion of the US population- 12.6%. It is a minority that is often overlooked especially in the space of the internet despite the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
When your website meets these guidelines of web accessibility, it is better for your business in several ways. First you make you website equally available to more people. Second meeting WCAG standards actually helps your SEO rankings. Third, meeting standards makes it less likely that your business could be taken to court. Many corporations have been had class action lawsuits filed for not being accessible.
So what are some of the things you can do to make sure your website meet these web accessibility standards?
Here are 6 things take into consideration.
Color should be taken into consideration as many people are colorblind. It is much easier to see a contrast in color when the background and foreground color aren’t similar. The use color to convey differences is not a good practice for web accessibility.
A great resource to check how accessible your colors are is WebAIM. It allows you to input your color selections and see if they meet the WCAG standards.
Not only is good content important for better SEO rankings. It is important for vision impaired users that require the help of a screen reader as well. It also just makes your website easier to read for everyone the visits. Making sure that code is properly setup for accessibility is important. Hiring a developer, that knows what to do, to make an accessible site is important. Or just making sure that you get an accessible ready WordPress theme if you want to do it yourself is of the utmost importance.
Make sure to use Yoast SEO or other SEO tool to help not only improve your SEO but also your website’s accessibility. All the suggestions they give to get a better SEO also improves the content of your site for accessibility.
Use hyperlinks in your website are meaningful. When a screen reader comes across “Read More”, it doesn’t help really the user. It is best to use text that describes the content being linked to. Also using a combination of methods to indicate a link for the colorblind such as a change in color and underlining the link makes it more obvious.
ALTERNATE TEXT FOR IMAGES
The use of alternate text is vital for people who use a screen reader. The reader needs to know what the image is of. Yet contrary to common belief, a simple description is better than a detailed, complex description. When using a image of a person, it is always best to simply use their name as the alternate text.
WP ACCESSIBILTY PLUGIN
WP Accessibility Plugin by Joseph Dolson is a great addition to any WordPress site and helps to ensure that your site is more accessible.
I want to thank Joe A Simpson Jr. for a wonderful and informative presentation about Web Accessibility at WordCamp LA 2018. His talk inspired this post and the future changes to my own sites to ensure that they are meeting more standards.
Let’s help to spread accessibility awareness and start with your website. If your ready to make your site more accessible, I’m ready to help.