Website accessibility remains one of the hot topics as the risk of website accessibility litigation continues to grow. In 2018, the number of federally-filed website accessibility cases reached 2,285, up from 815 in 2017. They further rose to over 3,200 in the first quarter of 2019.
Apart from avoiding lawsuits, an accessible website offers several other benefits. As a result, for many upcoming projects, website owners and developers are focusing on accessibility. However, what if you already have a website and want to make it accessible?
Fortunately, you can incorporate accessibility into your existing website when redesigning it. Here are four factors that you must consider when redesigning your website to make it accessible for the disabled.
1. Color and Contrast
Choosing color combinations with sufficient contrast, especially for the CTAs and related graphics, is necessary to improve web accessibility. It can help users with colorblindness, which is close to 300 million globally, to browse your website with ease.
You can use an online color blind filter to see how colorblind users see your website. Based on the analysis, you can take the necessary steps to change color contrast on your website.
In general, you should use colors on the opposite ends of the color spectrum, which are red-green, yellow–purple, and blue–orange. People with low vision often fail to distinguish lighter shades, so avoid using them whenever possible.
Make sure to check the color contrast guidelines by WCGA before setting out to redesign your website. You should follow these guidelines while designing icons, graphics, and other critical elements on your website.
2. Content Structure
You need to be extra careful when creating the content structure on your website. All the headings and sub-headings on your website, URL names, and CTAs also act as navigational elements, especially for the blind and visually impaired users.
Visually impaired and blind users often use screen readers to interpret and interact with the content on your website. You, therefore, need to follow a consistent and easy-to-understand content structure throughout the website.
You need to use precise title attributes and page titles. Also, use descriptive URLs to make them accessible. You should also use descriptive Alt Text to make images accessible to visually disabled users.
Make sure to add Skip Navigation buttons to help screen reader users jump to relevant content. You can also consider working with website copywriters to make sure your promotional content is accessible to everyone.
3. Online Forms
Most websites use online forms to collect user information and login IDs, and for placing orders. However, users with disabilities often find it difficult to use these forms.
You should follow the color contrast guidelines while redesigning your forms too. It will help visually impaired users to use the forms.
Make sure forms are keyboard-accessible. Also, always use labels for form fields and inputs as screen readers can read them using a speech synthesizer.
Screen readers are most likely to skip the placeholder text. Instead of placeholder text, use reminder text before each form field.
The error messages on the forms should be short and easy to understand. Linking the error message back to the relevant form field can take accessibility to a whole new level.
When re-designing your website, you also need to consider keyboard accessibility from the beginning. Although some of the elements may be keyboard-accessible, it is necessary to extend this feature to the entire website. It will allow users with motor disabilities and blindness to browse your site with a keyboard.
You can access your website using the Tab key to know how keyboard-friendly your website is. Use the Shift + Tab keys to see if the navigation works in reverse.
Use anchor links (jump lists) to help keyboard-only users skip long paragraphs of content to find the relevant information. Adding a “Skip to main content” anchor link at the top of each page will take keyboard-accessibility a step further.
Make sure users can access all elements of a web page menu with a keyboard. Avoid using hover events as they are not keyboard-friendly. You can use non-color link designators such as underlines for better accessibility.
If you haven’t already incorporated accessibility, you can do so while redesigning it. Just make sure you remember these four critical factors when redesigning your site for accessibility. What do you think about web accessibility? When do you plan to incorporate it? Tell us in the comments section.
Taral Patel is a digital marketer specializing in content marketing. He works at E2M Solutions Inc as a content strategist and helps brands in building a prominent online presence through his advanced content marketing techniques.
Mature woman on tablet stock photo by Rocketclips, Inc./Shutterstock