In a world where equality of access was often seen as a ‘nice idea’ but a bit of an inconvenience, making websites accessible to all, largely flew under the radar.
Now, as the world pushes for greater equality (and rightly so), provision for those with disabilities and conditions which restrict access has become more ‘mainstream’ and catered for.
How can web designers help?
As web designers, we have become more mindful and considerate of how accessible our websites are to those that may struggle with the way content is presented currently. Currently, there are over 11million people in the UK with complete or partial hearing loss and 2 million people living with sight loss.
Our websites embody well thought out design and planning which actually provides significant accessibility to many of those who may struggle to access websites normally but there is always opportunity for improvement.
What should a web designer consider?
If you are looking to build a website that has accessibility at the core, here are some things to consider.
Common disabilities that web designs have begun to pay special attention to are:
Visual Impairment: Those who are partially or totally unable to see or struggle with colour contrasts.
Hearing Impairment: Those who may have totally or a reduced ability to hear.
Physical Disabilities: Those who may struggle making precise movements.
Photo Sensitivities: Conditions such as epilepsy can cause seizures that are often triggered by flashing lights.
Cognitive Disabilities: Conditions that affect cognitive ability, such as dementia, autism and dyslexia.
7 practical tips!
Here are a few things that can help people harness the advances in technology to offer greater opportunities for those with disabilities to access websites:
1. Is Your Website Keyboard-Friendly - making sure your website can be accessed and navigated without a mouse, using only a keyboard, is really important.
2. Label your images with Alt Text - this enables a screen reader to tell the user what the image is of - the more detail the better.
3. Using headers consistently - this will help structure the sight and improve the readability and navigation. Only using one H1 Per page is important (and good practice anyway for SEO).
4. Enable resizable text - we all love a good laugh at that one family member that uses massive text on their phone (if you don’t have one, it is probably you). Building a site to take advantage of this feature from the beginning is vital to ensure it doesn’t cause further issues with your site.
5. Be mindful of the use of video - Video can be a great way of communicating but if it is set to auto-play, it can be very difficult to turn off for those using a screen reader. If you are using video, providing closed captions (subtitles) can ensure those with hearing impairments can still engage.
6. Accessible Forms - label each field correctly and place the labels in convenient locations. Ensuring the fields are of generous size, especially radio buttons and checkboxes so they can be easily clicked.
7. Colour choice - there are certain colours and colour combinations that are harder for those who are colourblind to distinguish. Some unsuitable combinations are Green & Black, Green & Grey, Blue & Grey, Light Green & Yellow, Green & Blue, Blue & Purple, Green & Brown, and Green & Red.
Intelligent and considerate colour choices can minimise this impact, making a site monochrome can help make it more accessible. Also enabling a ‘dark mode’ option can be a useful option for those who find the glare from a screen uncomfortable.
Accessibility at the core.
While this is not a comprehensive list of challenges and solutions, we continue to strive to ensure all our websites are built by combining intelligent design, greater accessibility and lead generation at the forefront. Accessibility should not be an afterthought or something that is just a nice idea, instead, it should be at the forefront of all good design practice.
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