What is web accessibility?
Online accessibility concerns the approach to the website’s creation so as to facilitate the access of disabled individuals but also people that aren’t technologically literate, and persons that use outdated platforms to connect to the internet. Web accessibility is an extremely important aspect that practically ensure smooth access on your website to a group of users that would otherwise be rendered incapable of doing it.
First and foremost, accessibility is strongly linked to UX (user experience). A website must be extremely intuitive thus making it easy to use ever for users that are inexperienced when it comes to browsing the internet. All menus must be placed in visible places, buttons need to be differentiated from one another, links should be readily distinguishable from the regular text, there shouldn’t be any pop-ups at all. These simply followed steps will facilitate the user’s access to all the website’s sections without having to reload the same page multiple times and having to get in contact with your company in order that they complete a certain action on your webpages.
The next step is ensuring that the website can be easily used by disabled individual. There being specific adjustments that should be made for each disability and taking into consideration the site’s profile as well as the technologies used, there are over 500 actions that can possibly be taken.
Obviously, a website can only be made accessible up to a certain degree; from there on each individual must probably acquire certain pieces of equipment that make web browsing much easier. An example is that a person paralyzed to the neck will have to make use of a special piece of software that creates a virtual keyboard and accepts vocal commands. The individual in question will send a vocal request to the software which in turn will act upon the virtual keyboard. In the case of a company that made accessibility a priority, using the website will be possible making use of solely the keyboard and so the user will enjoy their experience on the company’s website.
Implementing accessibility options with an existent website requires a greater effort and work volume than building from scratch a platform offering to its users the same options. Although pursuit of accessibility options doesn’t require much higher costs than creating a website, the majority of beneficiaries of website creation and hosting choose to decline making these implementations motivating that their products aren’t primarily addressed to users that might make use of such innovations. Obviously disabled people represent a minority in the demographics of internet users; however, we believe that access to websites shouldn’t be hindered by the lack of implementation existent technologies more than a normal person should.
Techniques used for a better web accessibility
There are numerous aspects to be considered when making a webpage accessible, however a comprehensive but not exhaustive list would look like this:
- ALT attribute for images
- Even though from the point of view of search engine optimization it is important that all images include an alternative description (ALT), the majority of web developers will not use it invoking various motives. An alternative description attributed to the images will allow blind people using a screen reader that narrates the text on a webpage to understand that there is an image on the page and it will enable them to comprehend what that image represents.
- Using the keyboard instead of the mouse
- Elderly people often suffer from tremors that affect their hands, making it difficult to use the mouse accurately. People suffering from Parkinson’s Disease are afflicted with a permanent tremor, usually an accentuated one. If the websites it allow, apart from the standard approach to browsing which is done by using the mouse, users will be able to use their keyboard to navigate the website without having their experience obstructed by the tremors.
- Double Spaced Links
- Addressing the needs of the aforementioned category, that is people that have slight tremors could also benefit from widely spaced links and generous spacing around the buttons and menus that would make it easier to click on the desired link without being sent to the wrong webpage by an involuntary tremor.
- Audio file transcription
- If a user that is deaf is visiting your website, they will find that those great audio instructions and video presentations that you have uploaded for your visitors’ convenience have been rendered useless. Every audio or video file should be accompanied by a transcript of what is happening and what is being said so that your desired content reaches everyone!
- Underlined Links
- Modern design of websites have stopped using the classic form of highlighting a link by showing it underlined. Nowadays it is more popular to have a different color used for your links alongside a thickened (bold) font. However popular and sleek looking these options might be they will not help a colorblind person to spot the link easily. To make your website accessible to people that have sight issues the website should have links substantially and evidently different from the rest of the text; the most common method to accomplishing that is by underlining the links.
- Avoiding Flashes
- Not seldom have we encountered websites that were trying to attract their visitors’ attention by exhibiting aggressive visual effects like permanent sparkles, bright lights showing up without warning etc. People suffering with epilepsy cannot handle such effects, flashing lights raising the risk of a seizure.