Google has advised that web content should be designed for the benefit of the user, and not simply to rank highly on search engines. Why not create a website that is accessible to people who are blind? Approximately 20 percent of people in the United States have some sort of disability, with 10 percent of cases considered severe. Around 30% of families have someone with a disability.
Web accessibility is important for those with disabilities because it allows them to have equal access to information and resources on the internet. Web design is also important for those with disabilities because it can help make websites more accessible and usable for them.
It’s important to have an accessible website so that everyone can use it. There are many benefits to having an accessible website.
If you design your website with web accessibility in mind, it will not only be legal and the right thing to do, but it will also improve your website and business performance. Here are the most important reasons why you should make your website accessible:
The first reason comes down to ethics. You are responsible for ensuring that your website is accessible to people with disabilities. A website that can be easily accessed by people with impairments helps them to be actively involved in society.
To be fully connected with modern life, one needs to be able to access the internet. But not everyone has the same ability to access the internet. Some people with disabilities find it easier to communicate and do business online rather than in person.
Web accessibility is a legal requirement in many countries. The Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the U.S. requires that information and communications technology provided by federal agencies is accessible to people with disabilities.
If someone with an impairment cannot access your website, they may sue you for discrimination. In 2018, there were about 2,250 lawsuits filed in federal courts in the United States.
Enhanced Brand Reputation
If you make your website accessible, it will improve your brand image and make people see that your company is concerned about social responsibility. If you improve your brand image, you will make more sales.
Research has found that 62% of consumers prefer to buy from companies that align with their personal values, and will avoid those that don’t. Make sure your website and company are socially responsible by making website accessibility a priority.
Access to a Large Market
One in four U.S. adults reportedly has a disability. Even people who do not have disabilities are likely to be part of your audience.
Would you buy from a website that wasn’t accessible and difficult to use? Most people with disabilities don’t trust service providers because of web accessibility issues. A survey study found that in 2019, 4 million people in the U.K. abandoned a retail website because of accessibility difficulties, resulting in a loss of £17.1 billion (almost $24 billion).
Additionally, it is important to remember that internet users who rely on assistive devices have significant spending power (over $350 billion in the United States alone). If you target this market well, you will put your business in front of people who are usually willing to pay more for a higher quality service.
Improved SEO and User Experience
In order to have a website that is accessible to everyone, it is important to follow best practices for SEO, mobile web design, and usability. This will ensure that your website can be used by everyone, regardless of any disabilities they may have.
Some things that are good for both web accessibility and SEO are, for example, adding alt text to images and transcripts to videos.
To make your website accessible, you need to have a well-organized navigation structure, titles and headings, and content. Improving your SEO and the overall user experience of your site will have many benefits.
A best practice for web accessibility is to have clean code. This will create a better website overall, with fewer bugs and a faster loading time.
This guide will teach you how to build a website that is accessible to those with visual impairments, but it is important to remember that accessibility must be broad in order to target all types of disabilities and people without disabilities that have other issues that may impede them. The main categories of disability are:
- Auditory (including deafness and hard-of-hearing)
- Cognitive (including learning disabilities, distractibility, and inability to remember large amounts of information)
- Visual (including blindness, low vision, and color?blindness)
- Motor (including Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, and limited fine motor control)
An accessible website should be able to be used by people of all ages, those with temporary disabilities or situational limitations, people with slow internet connections, and those using different devices like mobile phones or tablets.
What are some things you can do to make your website accessible to people who are blind?
Since it’s essential to not dismiss this crucial demographic, let’s talk about how you can make your website available to those who have visual impairments. While it may seem challenging to create a website that is accessible to those who are vision impaired, it is actually reinforces many good design practices recommended for all websites.
People who can’t see well often use screen reading software to browse the internet. One such program that is commonly used in the U.S. is Job Access With Speech (JAWS). JAWS is a screen reader program that reads text aloud while the keyboard is used to navigate the screen. Most visually impaired people do not use a mouse. This software can be used on Windows operating systems and with other programs such as Microsoft Office, Firefox and Adobe Acrobat. The next most popular program for the blind is Window-Eyes.
Provide Enough Color Contrast
Use high contrast between background color and text. This is especially important for color-blind users. At the very least, you should make sure your website meets the WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines. Those guidelines state that normal text must have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 and large text must have a contrast ratio of 3.1. Anything that is considered a large font size or bold text is considered large text.
You can use a tool like Colorzilla to get the value of any color on a website. Most color contrast checkers make sure that the colors used comply with this standard.
Limit Color and Don’t Rely On It
Using too many colors can be distracting and confusing. If you use too many colors, it can be hard for users to know which items are important. Try to use fewer colors.
Color blind people shouldn’t rely on color to communicate. This means, for example, don’t say “click on the red button.” If you want to create a color-blind friendly design, avoid using green and red together or red and green together. Use a limited number of colors to reduce confusion.
Avoid Text Over Background Images
If you add text over a background image, the image might not have enough contrast with the text color, which can create a problem. You should avoid using text over background images unless you use online tools to test the contrast to make sure it is legible.
Choose colors and background images for your text that create enough contrast so the text is easy to read for color-blind users.
If something is important, it needs to be placed at the top. This is because people will see it first and it will be given more attention.
This is the reverse of what is typically expected. If something is important, it is typically thought to be at the bottom, or the end. It is important to place the most important information at the top of your web page or at the beginning of a paragraph. This benefits all parties involved: those who can see, those who are visually impaired, and the website owner. Google uses the content on a page to help determine if the page is relevant to the title.
Make sure your website is organized in a way that makes it easy for users to find the information they’re looking for. Users of screen readers can go through paragraphs and links quickly, listening to only the first few words to decide if it is relevant to them.
This also applies to forms on a website. Most websites treat a form submission as a conversion, so they should be easy to track. In the study, participants were asked to fill out a form that was located on a webpage beneath a large amount of text. Finding the form took the participants a long time, and some even gave up before finding it.
The tabindex attribute is important to keep in mind when creating accessible forms. The vision impaired typically navigate with the keyboard by using the Tab button to advance to the next field on your form. The tabindex attribute helps the developer control the order in which users will tab through the form fields. This is important to ensure that users fill out the form in the correct order and don’t get confused.
Prioritize Important Information
The most important content on the page should be at the top for all users and for search engines. This is especially useful for people who use assistive technology as they can quickly determine if a page contains the information they are seeking.
Description and most important information should be included at the beginning for both blog posts and product pages.
Make Your Website Keyboard-Only Accessible
Some users with visual disabilities rely on keyboards to navigate the web. Allowing keyboard shortcuts and commands can make it easier for these users to navigate your site. Make devices like a mouse optional rather than required.
For example, keyboard users will tab to the next field when filling in a contact form. To create a good user experience, use the “tabindex” attribute to indicate the correct order of fields to follow.
Limit the Number of Links
Limit the number of links on your pages. Too many outgoing links is bad for SEO.
When designing for visually impaired people, it is extra important to limit the number of links on each page. Some screen readers announce the number of links on a page as soon as the page is loaded, which can be overwhelming if there are many links.
Limit the Links per Page
If you want your website to be accessible to as many people as possible, you should limit the number of links on each page. This is especially important if you want to make your site accessible to people with visual impairments. When users open a page using JAWS, the first thing they hear is the number of links on the page followed by the text of the links. The participants were unhappy to hear that there were more than 100 links on a page, feeling overwhelmed at the thought.
Sighted users will quickly scan the page to determine how much information is on it, which will give them an idea of how long it will take to find what they need. These users are more likely to go to a different website that has what they are looking for instead of trying to go through a bunch of links. If you want the links on your website to be effective, limit the number of links on each page. Links with less competition for clicks (“link juice”) are more likely to be clicked, and will direct more link juice to the pages they’re linking to.
You May Not Need A Separate Version
The visually impaired participants of the study found that separate screen-reader friendly versions of some websites were hardly used because they felt the versions were outdated and inaccurate.
Almost all visually impaired users would rather have websites be made accessible with a few changes so that they can use a screen reader or some other form of assistive technology. Although this may seem like bad news at first, it is actually good news for web developers who want to make their sites accessible to the visually impaired. If you want to make your website accessible, you don’t need to create a separate all-text website. You just need to take some of these considerations into account.
Organize Content With a Descriptive Title and Headings
When users land on a page, the first thing a screen reader will do is read the title. From there, users have the option to jump from heading to heading. Use descriptive titles When creating a title for your table, make it as descriptive as possible to help users understand what information is included. You can also include heading elements (e.g. “”) to identify different sections of the table.
Use correct CSS for layout and HTML for structure.
Reduce the Number of Ads on Your Page
If your website has too many ads, it can make it difficult for users, especially those who use screen readers, to navigate and find the content they’re looking for.
When creating visual advertisements, be sure to include alt text and identify the content as an advertisement. This is so that visually impaired people will know what the content is about and can decide if they want to consume it.