How to Make Your Website Accessible to All Audiences (and Why It Matters!)

October 19, 2017

Accessibility is an important part of designing a website, as it allows individuals with disability to access online content easily. An accessible and inclusive website is a wonderful way to show that you value your audiences and will also help you reach a wider audience as we all absorb information differently. Students, for example, find captions particularly useful. Making your website fully accessible will help everyone, not only the 11 million people with disabilities in the UK.

Accessibility for Hearing Impaired Users

Although it may be a good starting point, the simple transcription of audio content is not sufficient for those who are deaf. Captions and subtitles may actually distort the original message.

For video media, one of the most effective strategies is to ensure that your content translates into ASL. This can be done by using sign language interpreters. If this isn’t available, transcription and subtitles for your website can be an effective backup; it is important to also include the transcription of sound effects.

Texts which are short and to the point are also an effective strategy. Avoid using slang or wordplay which may confuse people who are not native English speakers and use bullet lists and simple definitions. Split longer texts by using headings and subheadings; this will make it easier to process.

Accessibility for Visually Impaired Users

An amazing design and stunning website graphics will not mean much to website users who have visual impairments. Other strategies are necessary to include these users.

Label images by using the alt=tags, as this will allow people using assistive technology to “read” the images and understand their placement. The same thing can be said for page structure: clear labels can help visitors understand when they are on your page. Try to limit your visual embellishments to the necessary amount, as this may actually be confusing for everyone and create a difficult online experience.

Accessibility for People With Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, Dyslexia and ADD, can also significantly modify the way a user interacts with a website. Focus on efficiency and effectiveness by using a clean design which highlights important features, such as menus and links. Readability should also be simple in order to address general audiences.

Autism, in particular, requires a simple website and the avoidance of moving graphics, bright colors and other elements which cause overstimulation.

These changes in your website will benefit both your website and your audience, as there will be a higher traffic and level of engagement thanks to your work to include every audience.

Jackie Edwards

19th October 2017

 

Web accessibility is not an area that I specialise in but I do know people who do, if you you like any help in this area contact me.

Ian Streets