You want to draw in as many visitors as you can to your web pages whether you operate an e-commerce site or a web development company. If accessible site design is not prioritized, this could be challenging.
Making sure that everyone can use your website, including people with disabilities and impairments, is known as website accessibility. Gone are the days when we had to make do with whatever little tools we had at hand. Fortunately, today there are numerous tools, resources, and advice you can use to make building an inclusive website much more straightforward.
We'll discuss the significance of ADA website compliance in this post. Then, we will demonstrate how to check your site's accessibility. Finally, we'll give you a comprehensive manual for creating websites that are incredibly accessible. Let's get going!
- What is web accessibility?
- What are the most important things about making a website accessible?
- Why is it important to make websites accessible to all users?
- How to Check Your Site’s Web Accessibility
- Benefits of accessible website design
- How can Deskera Help You?
- Key Takeaways
What is Web Accessibility?
Making websites accessible to all on the internet is what is referred to as website accessibility. When a website, tool, or technology is designed in a way that it can be conveniently used by people with disabilities is referred to as web accessibility. In more detail, individuals can also perceive, comprehend, navigate, and engage with the Web.
Web accessibility addresses any limitations that impede access to the Web, which may be any of the following:
Research reveals almost 20% of Americans live with a disability. This fact further highlights the reasons for having an accessible website for people with disabilities.
Rarely do businesses purposefully make their website inaccessible to those with disabilities. In reality, many people wish to create an accessible website but first want to perform their homework regarding the costs and materials required for such a venture.
And why not! Getting a solid grip over the project's background is always wise before taking the leap.
The rising use of the internet and the dependability of the masses on it for their day-to-day activities only heightens the need to have easily accessible websites. People with disabilities may now explore the Internet thanks to innovations like screen readers, Braille terminals, and alternate keywords. However, this is not enough. Businesses can still do more when it comes to website design. Your website can become more globally accessible with a few simple design adjustments.
People with impairments can use websites and web tools when they are well-designed and coded. However, many websites and applications today have been created with inaccessibility issues, finding it challenging or unattainable for several users to utilize them.
Accessibility improvements help the community at large, aside from businesses and people. We can learn more about accessibility from the outlined structure provided by International web standards.
Beneficial for all
The evolution of web accessibility benefits not only people with disabilities but also the ones without them. Here are some of the pointers that detail the advantages of web accessibility for all:
- Users of smartwatches, smart TVs, mobile phones, and other gadgets with small screens, can avail of various input methods. This eases the use of the gadget for them.
- Older adults whose abilities are deteriorating with age also benefit from easy accessibility.
- There are also times when people face situational restrictions such as in bright sunshine or in a setting where they cannot hear the audio clearly. The developed accessibility can be extremely helpful in such times.
- Poor internet connection or a restricted bandwidth can make simple surfing a daunting task. Web accessibility can provide a lot of respite in such a scenario.
- Individuals with temporary disabilities such as a broken arm or misplaced spectacles can utilize them with ease.
What are the most important things about making a website accessible?
There is a misunderstanding that achieving online accessibility necessitates aesthetic compromises or is not worthwhile. The merit of a website depends on having highly accessible and universal designs that can be viewed in as many different ways as possible. This is because there are an increasing number of methods by which consumers access the internet.
Making a website accessible is easier than you might believe, which is good news. Most web accessibility standards now align with best practices for creating websites. We have seen in the previous section that an accessible webpage or website can be fruitful for all people alike. This section talks about the most relevant factors that are instrumental in building an accessible and simple website. When you are trying to create an online world that is easy to navigate for all, you can not miss out on these factors.
Let’s catch them here, in this section.
Selecting a competent Content Management System
While building an accessible website, one can never underestimate the significance of a good content management system. You can design your website using one of the various content management systems that are available.
WordPress is a very popular example, although there are plenty of other choices.
The next step after selecting a CMS that meets your needs, you must select an accessible theme or template. Be mindful of selecting a template that also defines all your tags; this is to say, ensure the template keeps the structure of your content in place and complements it.
For accessibility-related advice and pointers on developing accessible content and layouts for that theme, go to the theme's documentation. The documentation shall be helpful in providing you with tips and tricks on how to increase and improve the website’s accessibility.
The same rules should be followed when choosing modules, plugins, or widgets. Make sure that components like video players and editing toolbars allow the creation of accessible content. For instance, editing toolbars must offer options for accessible tables and headings, and video players ought to support closed captioning.
Furthermore, also remember to include and enable accessibility of the admin options on the system. To sum up, get hold of a CMS that is descriptive of your content and also offers excellent accessibility for all users.
Ensuring content accessibility through keyboards alone
We often come across people with mobility issues or those who have sustained repetitive stress injuries. It is challenging for them to operate a mouse or trackpad. These users can access content by pressing the "tab" or "arrow" keys on a keyboard or by using alternate input methods like a single-switch input.
This requires you to draft techniques and introduce features on your website that enable them to carry out an action without having to use a mouse. The tab order should, therefore, correspond to the visual order so that keyboard-only visitors can browse the site's content efficiently.
Another aspect is the anchor links. These links should be used to break up long pages or pages with a lot of content so that keyboard-only users can move directly to the relevant parts of the page. With this feature, they can avoid navigating through other content.
A simple element you can introduce is a link to "Skip to main content". This way, the keyboard-only users would be enabled to arrive at the top of each page without the hassles.
Apart from these components, all menu items on sites with local menus that have several levels and sub-items should be able to be accessed using the keyboard. Avoid using elements that can only be activated by the user hovering over them with the mouse because users of keyboard-only devices or screen readers won't be able to do so.
Giving ALT Text for images
Alt text, also known as alt tags and alt descriptions, is the written content that substitutes for an image on a webpage when the image is unable to load on the user's screen. This language makes your website easier for search engines to crawl and rank by helping screen-reading software describe images to users who are blind or visually challenged. The at text is added as a part of the HTML code.
The benefits of including Alt text for images are as follows:
- Enhances website accessibility
- Improves rankings on Google images
- Alt text can help describe the image when the image is not displayed on the page.
- Alt text serves as an anchor text in the case you decide to use the image as the link.
Examples of Alt text images are as described here for the respective image of a rose flower:
Better alt text:
Even better alt text:
For screen reader users to grasp the message that is being sent through the images on the page, alt text for images can be of great help. This is crucial for informational visuals in particular. If an image has text in it, that text should also be included in the alt text, which should contain the message you want to express through that image.
The one exception to this rule is when an image is used only for decoration. In that instance, the alt text can be left empty so that the screen reader user is not diverted from the page's more significant information.
Create a robust outline of your content
There is a lot of information included only in the headings and subheads. Users of screen readers can traverse text using heading structure. Screen readers will have no trouble understanding the content of your website if headings are used correctly and strategically. When you set out to create your webpage, you must be attentive to the structure or the outer framework of your content. Give descriptive and catchy headings and subheadings. It is not only interesting to read but also gives adequate information to the reader.
5 Advantages of creating an outline for your content are;
- The better focus of the reader
- Smoother and swifter transitions from one point to the other
- Maintains an optimal order of the content
- Better presentation and improved organization
- Helps achieve conciseness in writing
Make sure to follow the proper heading order, and use CSS or Cascading Style Sheets to separate presentation from structure. Instead of choosing a header based solely on how it appears on the surface (which can confuse users of screen readers), design your text using a new CSS class.
Here are some examples of how to utilize headings correctly.
- For the page's main title, use the tag <h1>. Other than the website title and the titles of individual pages, refrain from using a <h1> tag.
- Always use headers to denote and organize the structure of your content.
- Avoid skipping heading levels. This is to say, avoid moving from an h1 to an h3. It may mislead the reader into believing that they have missed out on the part of the content.
An example of how to give an outline can be described as follows:
These are just some thoughts on the outline of your content or the essay; there is a lot that depends on the sentence structure and formation, and also on the amount of knowledge your content imparts.
Giving unique names to links
Our primary technique of web navigation is through links. Even when conducting a web search, visiting a website involves clicking on a link, followed by a sequence of links as you browse the site. The existence of links is what gives rise to the internet.
For optimal usage of links on your website, use words that accurately represent the link's destination when incorporating links in your article. When you simply use the phrase "click here", it does not give adequate information to the screen reader users and is not regarded as descriptive.
Visually impaired people can use their screen readers to search for links just the way other users do when they scan a page for linked text. As a result, users of screen readers frequently fail to read the link in light of the context of the page. The context of links can be correctly explained to screen reader users only by using descriptive language.
Since the screen reader users frequently scan the links list using the initial letter, the most distinctive content of the link should be given first. A typical example of this could be giving a link on ‘About the Company’ rather than mentioning ‘Click to know about the company’.
You will notice that the former one is not only descriptive but also give a polished and professional feel to the text. On the other hand, the latter does not come across as nicely.
Using exciting color schemes and combinations
While designing your website for accessibility, you cannot rule out the importance of colors. Because it enables persons with visual impairments or color vision disorders to interact with digital activities in the same way as their non-visually impaired counterparts, color accessibility is crucial.
Color determines how consumers feel about a website, promotes brand recognition, and highlights crucial website aspects. It's crucial to pick the proper colors because they influence people's emotions in different ways. The key components of effective web design are white space, contrast, and attractive color schemes.
Some ideal techniques you can implement for this purpose are as follows:
- Ratio: A color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 should be used for text and interactive elements.
- Color as a signal or indicator: The only indicator for interactive items shouldn't be color.
- Colors to avoid: Avoid green on red or red on green since red/green color blindness is the most prevalent.
It's vital to understand that screen readers do not read aloud information from images. As a result, color information is not read by the screen reader. When using color to accentuate items, non-visual and visual users who cannot see color must be taken into account. The significance of color to the human mind underlies the significance of color design. Color inspires ideas, conveys messages, piques curiosity, and elicits specific feelings. Some colors have a universal meaning; for instance, it is well known that the hues red and green denote different things.
Using tables effectively
Users of screen readers see more incoherence and verbosity when pages are laid out using tables. Screen readers notify users that there is a table with "x" number of columns and rows whenever they come across one, which detracts from the content. Additionally, the order in which the text is read could differ from the way the page appears visually. Instead of utilizing tables to layout a website, utilize CSS for appearance.
Use headers for rows and columns to help explain the relationships between cells when a data table is required. A table format is apt when data represented through it would be more comprehensible than in any other format. A bank statement is an ideal example of this.
Use the "scope" attribute in HTML to identify any complex tables that contain several cells that relate to one another in a certain way. HTML5 table captions can be used to provide users with more details about how to read and comprehend the relationships between the tables.
Here are a few tips that can assist you in making tables work for increasing the accessibility of your website. Let’s check them out:
- Weigh Layout table and Data Tables
- Using Headers and Scope
- Using table captions
- Avoiding complex tables
Let’s see what each one of them outlines.
What are data tables and layout tables?
In order to accomplish a specific layout, such as aligning page elements in rows or columns in multi-column layouts, HTML tables have been of a lot of help. These tables, also referred to as layout tables, typically don't have any logical connection between their rows and columns. This gave rise to the use of CSS instead of HTML for creating layout tables, as CSS represents the layout of the tables much better than HTML.
In its most basic form, a data table consists of a set of intersecting columns and rows, together with a header row that lists the titles of the columns to help the user comprehend the table's content. If you want to represent and utilize only two-dimensional data, then HTML can be a good tool for that.
The tables that are drawn using HTML generally include row headers, column headers, or both, and clearly define the relationships between rows and columns. Users of screen readers can access the row and column headers connected to any given cell in a table to perform additional functionality.
Headers and Scope
It is always recommended to use table headers or the <th> element for data tables. On the other hand, column headers are sufficient for tables that represent data or that are small. Furthermore, the tables that are longer or that include complicated data must have row and column headers.
There should always be a scope attribute on <th> elements. Scope="col" and scope="row" is required in the headers of columns and rows, respectively.
Captions in Tables
Make your tables more accessible by giving accessible names to them using the <caption> element. Users using screen readers can access a page's list of tables. A screen reader will give the user the table's accessible name if it exists. If not, only the number of rows and columns may be read by the screen reader.
Avoid complicated tables
Tables with too many levels of row or column headers may pose challenges in the correct markup and scope attributes. The same goes for headers with multiple columns or rows. Weigh your options of including multiple tables instead of a single long table to make it simpler and more accessible.
Create forms that aid accessibility
Not only are inaccessible forms unpleasant, but they are also terrible for business. They cause your business to miss out on registrations, surveys, and other opportunities. Everyone can access your website if you design it with accessibility in mind.
Fortunately, HTML makes it simple to create accessible forms. Your form will be accessible for those with visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, and those using a keyboard to browse the web if you follow these five best practices.
Here are some best practices you can follow to create forms that help accessibility:
- Forms that are supported by keyboard navigation
When we speak about keyboard navigation, we must remember that Keyboards are used by people with vision or mobility impairments to navigate the internet forms. Users can switch between links and form controls by pressing the tab key. Because it's quicker and easier on the hands than using a mouse, some people, irrespective of their level of ability, prefer to navigate this way.
You can implement semantic HTML elements. A semantic element is a piece of code with a name that expresses its function, such as "form" or "button." Non-semantic components like <div> don't specify the type of content that is contained within the tag. If you use semantic HTML elements when you code your website, the tab key will automatically switch between form fields.
- Using clear visual labels
Because there is little contrast between the text color and the form field backdrop, visually impaired people frequently have problems reading it. Plus, placeholder text is frequently missed by screen readers.
Since the text vanishes when the user selects the field, this design also challenges short-term memory. Almost everyone finds these ad hoc instructions annoying. It's simple to forget the text, especially if you're multitasking online in a frenzy.
- Create codes for labels for screen readers
Your form must have label tags (<label> and /label>) to enable the screen reader users to access it. When it reaches the associated form input, the assistive technology will announce the text contained therein. Tags for labels also produce a distinct visual label.
Enabling dynamic content accessibility
Screen readers might not be aware when content changes dynamically (i.e., without refreshing the website). This covers popups, lightboxes, in-page changes, modal dialogs, and screen overlays. Page overlays may entrap people who solely use their keyboards. Users of magnifying software can zoom in on the incorrect portion of the page.
It is simple to make these features accessible. Your options include front-end development frameworks that explicitly assist accessibility as well as ARIA roles and alerts.
Make sure that video players can be used with a keyboard and that they don't auto-play. All videos must also offer alternatives for closed captioning and transcripts for viewers with hearing impairment.
Utilizing ARIA landmarks
An intricate and effective technological definition called ARIA – Accessible Rich Internet Applications is used to add accessibility information to elements that are not already inherently accessible. When they are accessible, you should always use native HTML components. HTML5 makes available and implements a lot of functions that previously required ARIA attributes.
However, some areas where ARIA can be useful are highlighted through the following examples:
- Add alerts so that the screenreader users are notified of the dynamic page changes.
- As learned in the previous paragraph, ARIA can help make complex widgets accessible to users.
Why is it important to make websites accessible to all users?
So far in the article, we have grasped that the degree to which an ADA compliant website can be utilized by people with impairments is referred to as its accessibility. This can include those who are blind or have low vision, those who are deaf or have hearing impairments, those who are physically or mentally challenged, or people who are facing temporary physical constraints.
It's crucial to check that you're not excluding people who fit this group as the website's owner. In truth, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights statute that forbids disability discrimination in businesses and organizations. However, the accessibility of websites should not only be prioritized for legal compliance.
Let’s look at the top 5 reasons why it is important to make your website accessible to all your users:
Enhance the prestige of your company
Providing digital accessibility can be your opportunity to create social responsibility and a positive impact and thus, create a reputation of being thoughtful towards all your consumers. Not only will such an act build a positive reputation for the brand but also enhance customer engagement and loyalty.
In today's society, consumers appreciate the ideas of social and corporate responsibility and have a more favorable perception of firms that promote such behavior. A website with an accessible interface carries a sort of thoughtfulness that makes it obvious that the site's owner is a company that values giving all users equal access and making accommodations for their requirements.
Strengthen your SEO efforts
It goes without saying that your SEO efforts and the search engine result page rankings are directly affected by your website’s accessibility. This is a very valuable point that further emphasizes the use of accessible websites.
Providing a good user experience is one of the most crucial criteria for a website's SEO status. It determines the time consumers spend interacting with your content on your website. After all, irrespective of the user’s ability, an accessible site is by far simpler to use and improves user experience manifolds.
It offers a better navigation experience to the users which is more comfortable. Businesses can eventually reap the benefits of reduced bounce rates, in the long run, owing to web accessibility. Additionally, customer retention can be an added advantage.
In addition, many SEO needs and best practices for accessibility overlap, such as the need for high-quality, open-access material and a user-friendly interface.
Achieve financial benefits
The statistics stand on their own when it comes to the financial advantages of web accessibility. By making the website easier to use for everyone, integrating accessibility features can actually help business growth in a world where many individuals experience accessibility challenges while using the web.
In addition to users with disabilities, an accessible website makes content, products, and services available to a broader group of people, including older users with age-related difficulties and users with special needs.
If a business chooses to ignore these advantages, it could be directly ignoring the call of billions of web users; this could have dire outcomes and impact the net profit of the business. And this would not be a wise thing to neglect and let go of the revenue it generates.
Getting sued can be problematic: Keeping away from ADA web accessibility litigation
As we know, the ADA mandates organizations to make their websites user-friendly; failure to do so will attract lawsuits. The lawsuits have been on the rise and businesses face a tough time dealing with these once they are pulled into one.
You certainly do not want to get into a problem that can be easily averted. By implementing the various techniques available to curb any kind of discomfort or inaccessibility, you can keep these nasty lawsuits away.
To give you a perspective, here is how the ADA lawsuits can trouble you:
Overall, a court case could be long-running and expensive. All these obstacles can pose a huge risk in the smooth functioning of your business, and therefore, they are better avoided.
How to Check Your Site’s Web Accessibility
This section gives you 4 easy ways in which you can check the site accessibility. It is always good to know the existing status of your pages.
Using an online accessibility checker
Using a software to check the status online could be a great option. Your options include WAVE which is a web accessibility evaluation tool. It checks for compliance with accessibility standards such as WCAG.
Such software can be instrumental in informing you about the improvements you can bring about in your website.
Installing browser extensions
You can also download and install a web browser plugin that will automatically check for accessibility issues to use when you want to inspect a website. The Accessible Rich Internet Applications – ARIA extension is a well-liked Chrome add-on.
A free and open source accessibility tool that enables users to personalize how they interact with web content is the ARIA DevTools plugin for Chrome. ARIA is intended to make web pages more accessible to assistive devices like screen readers and to improve their usability for individuals with impairments.
This is accomplished using ARIA, which offers a collection of properties you can utilize to increase the accessibility of HTML elements.
Manual checking of accessibility issues
Using a manual approach is another way to look for accessibility problems. This method will certainly take more time than the other online tools and addons.
Yet, it can be a thorough method if you employ a checklist. Additionally, this technique is free, making it accessible to all website owners. As an alternative, performing a manual run-through could be only one of your accessibility assessment's options.
Hiring an expert for the job
From web designing to other activities related to website’s accessibility, an expert team can guide you with assessing your web accessibility score. They can help you recognize and undo the issues with accessibility.
Benefits of accessible website design
Making your website accessible entails making sure that all audiences will find it simple to read and comprehend. A disability of some kind affects one in five adults today, and 15 to 20 percent of those people have a disability that makes it difficult for them to use the internet. It is up to the businesses to determine how they plan to make it easier for those potential buyers who fall under that percentage.
It will be a lot simpler for you to design an accessible website if you could imagine things from the perception of your customers with disabilities. Ask, how would you navigate the web if you were blind, deaf, or unable to use a mouse or trackpad. The most important point would be how much priority you give to companies and brands that recognize and cater to your needs.
Having an attractive website is not sufficient. How much thought has been put into designing the website from the user’s perspective is what counts the most. This is especially true when it comes to accessibility, one of the key factors you must keep in mind while you construct your website.
These are just a few reasons why you should consider designing an accessible website. Let’s weigh in the 5 boons of having an accessible website design in place.
Expand the audience you reach
As was already established, a sizable portion of both the U.S. and the world's population consists of people with disabilities. If you create a website that is inaccessible, you will miss out on that market. Potential customers and leads will not interact with your content because they are unable to do so.
On the other side, an accessible website design expands your possible target market. Over $200 billion in annual spending power is attributed to people with disabilities.
Obtain a Competitive Advantage
Getting an advantage is a key to succeeding in a cutthroat virtual community. You have a chance to make a difference in the crowd if you offer services and deliver your material in ways that are different from those of your rivals. Accessibility can invariably assist you in achieving that goal.
Apart from accomplishing a wider audience reach, you certainly get a competitive advantage. This is to say that it provides you with an opportunity to build a positive image in the eyes of the general public and your visitors. Through public relations efforts and justifications of how this effort supports your primary objective, it is worthwhile to promote an accessible website. Having an accessible website can incredibly boost your reputation and enhance customer engagement in the long run. You can project a loving attitude toward the community, including those with disabilities, and create a potent platform for communication in the process. Furthermore, it is a great way to showcase social responsibility.
Improve Search Engine Optimization
Speaking of a search engine, Google is what comes to the top of our minds. We understand that Google has laid relevance as the top metric when it comes to providing content for its users. They know that the more relevant the data presented, the more trusted the relationship with the customer or the visitor.
This is the top reason why Google emphasizes accessibility across all its products. Certain key components that are used by Google to enhance the search ranking include closed captioning, image ALT text, accessible navigation, transcripts in case of videos, and so on.
This implies that SEO and accessibility go hand in hand. In other words, the more accessible your website is the higher the search engine optimization.
Boost website usability
Yes, persons with disabilities are primarily the emphasis of accessible website design. They must be capable of reading, seeing, and consuming content just as successfully as their peers. However, these are only the direct benefits you derive from having an accessible website. There are other goals that are achieved as a result of efforts to make it simpler.
Cleaning up your code, getting rid of bugs, and slashing load times are frequently necessary for accessibility. That is, however, only one part of the story. All segments of your target audience will find it easier to navigate websites that are fully accessible because they don't require a mouse. Irrespective of the abilities of the audience, simpler navigation, image ALT text for sluggish internet connections, and glossaries are helpful. Consider accessibility and usability for all users.
Avoid Possible Lawsuits for Discrimination
Businesses are required by the ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to make reasonable accommodations so that persons with disabilities can be treated equally with their peers. The guidelines under that statute are increasingly expanding beyond a building's actual premises to cover a business's online holdings, such as its website and social media pages. The advantages of accessible web design are extensively highlighted in the aforementioned advantages. It's also necessary to talk about the potential drawbacks of not taking your internet presence in this route, though. It is important we talk about these to address any factor that may imply discrimination against people with disabilities.
More than 2,000 lawsuits involving web accessibility were filed in 2018, which was more than three times as many as in 2017. That number is still increasing. It is crucial to understand these figures as it has impacted both small enterprises and large international corporations. Your finances could be completely destroyed if you lose a case because your website is inaccessible.
The solution to the problem is simple. These lawsuits can be almost entirely avoided by designing your website with ADA compliance in mind. You simply need to understand how to construct your website correctly to avoid these unnecessary and perplexing situations.
How can Deskera Help You?
As a business, you must be diligent with the employee payroll system. Deskera People allows you to conveniently manage payroll, leave, attendance, and other expenses. Generating pay slips for your employees is now easy as the platform also digitizes and automates HR processes.
The rising use of the internet and the dependability of the masses on it for their day-to-day activities only heightens the need to have easily accessible websites.
- Making sure that everyone can use your website, including people with disabilities and impairments, is known as website accessibility.
- Making websites accessible to all on the internet is what is referred to as website accessibility. When a website, tool, or technology is designed in a way that it can be conveniently used by people with disabilities is referred to as web accessibility.
- The evolution of web accessibility benefits not only people with disabilities but also the ones without them.
- Select a competent management system such as WordPress. Ensuring content accessibility through keyboard alone, giving ALT text images, giving a robust outline to the content, and giving unique names to links are some of the other options to implement web accessibility.
- ARIA can be an effective way in which web accessibility can be deployed.
- Making your website accessible can enhance your company’s prestige, strengthen your SEO efforts, help achieve financial benefits, and help keep ADA lawsuits away.
- There are four ways by which you can check your website’s accessibility. Online accessibility checkers, installing browser extensions, manual checking, and hiring an expert for the job are the options to check a website’s accessibility.
- There are various benefits of having an accessible website. These include expanding your audience outreach, obtaining a competitive advantage, improving SEO ranking, boosting website usability, and avoiding lawsuits.