How would you read this text if you were blind? How would you understand an online video if you couldn’t hear? How would you scroll this page if you couldn’t hold a mouse, use a touchpad or swipe your smartphone? Here are two examples of how accessibility benefits all users.
1) What does a person who is blind hear when they navigate an accessible website?
Screen readers voice the words on a webpage. Proper formatting lets a user who is blind navigate within the page and throughout the site. Accessible websites tag images with descriptions, or alt text, which is read by a screen reader. But don't depend on alt text that appears by default: often, it’s just the name of the file, such as IMG_8708.jpg. It tells the user nothing about the image's actual content. Not only is such default text unhelpful, it's time-consuming and potentially annoying. Instead, check the alt text and clarify it with a helpful description if needed.
Alt text can also improve websites for people who have sight, but choose not to display images on their mobile devices to reduce bandwidth, time and download costs. Adding descriptive alt text can also boost websites' SEO results, providing more content detail to search engines.
2) What does a person who is color blind see when they fill out an accessible form?
An accessible form provides additional, text-based cues to bring mistakes to the attention of a user who is color blind. Many inaccessible forms use color only to indicate omitted or incorrectly completed fields. For example, a prompt to correct or complete the items “shown in red,” won't be helpful to a user who is color blind. Here is an example of a form that works for everyone.
An accessible web form's error message should include a text-based cue such as the rectangular box above instructing “Please fill out this field,” to provide specific direction to the user.