Tips and facts

Three tips to make your website accessible for people with disabilities

These tips will get you started on the path to digital accessibility - ensuring that folks with disabilities can engage with your content.

Is your site keyboard accessible? Not all users navigate digital content using a mouse. Photo Credit: Anna Miller

Digital accessibility is a hot topic, and with good reason: considering that 16% of the global population has a disability that affects visual, auditory, mobility and/or neurocognitive experiences, businesses and other organizations are prioritizing access to ensure that everyone can interact with their digital content.

If you’re wondering where to get started, these three tips are simple and inexpensive ways to make your digital content accessible to a wider population.

1. Access for individuals with fine-motor control issues

Is your site keyboard accessible? Not all users navigate digital content using a mouse. Some visitors use only a keyboard. Test the navigation and operation of your site using just a keyboard by using the tab keys, the arrow keys, the enter key and the space bar key. You should be able to fully navigate the site and access all of the content, particularly the controls such as drop-down menus, form fields and radio buttons.

2. Access for individuals with color blindness

Does your site use only color to convey information? Not all users have perfect color vision and some users are color blind. Look at your site’s images, particularly charts and graphs. If color is the only distinction between the elements on the chart, a shading pattern needs to be added.

Error messages regarding incorrectly completed form fields often only use color to inform. Sometimes the error message will ask the user to correct or complete the items “shown in red,” which may not work for everyone. A good solution is to add a symbol, such as an asterisk or exclamation point, to the error message with the indication that the error is “shown in red or with an asterisk.”

3. Access for individuals with hearing loss or deafness

Are there any uncaptioned videos embedded in your site? Not all users have perfect hearing, and some users may have no hearing. Information in a video that is conveyed through speech or sound should also appear in the video as text. Simply look around your site for videos, play them and press the closed captioning (cc) button. Does text appear? Does it match what you hear?

If in checking the three items above you find potential accessibility issues, let your web developers know. Be sure to stress the importance of correcting these issues in a timely and effective manner.

While there are potential legal and business implications, accessibility is simply the right thing to do, because every individual should be assured equal access to digital content. Often times, changes made to benefit individuals with disabilities end up benefiting everyone. For example, consider how useful captions are in sports bars and lounges.

Checking these three items alone won’t ensure full accessibility or compliance with applicable laws. But they are easy, no-cost evaluations that anyone can do to start on a pathway to accessibility.

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