Making Your Website Accessible For Everyone

Mindful web accessibility ensures that more people are able to access and benefit from what your website has to offer. It is best for everyone if the your content is inclusive, non restrictive, and non discriminative.

The National Disability Authority advocates for the importance of making sure “any information and services that you provide through your websites are accessible to customers with disabilities”. These views are echoed in the guidelines for Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) 2.0.

As part of working with clients here at Webfactory, we make sure to discuss accessibility and agree the necessary level for their projects based on user needs. The ideal result is that their entire user base can access their content. Below are our tips for easily improving your website’s accessibility.

How content editors can improve their website accessibility

There are many ways content editors can help their website achieve and maintain their accessibility goals. Many of these tips will positively affect your SEO if done correctly.

Heading structures and how they assist accessibility

Heading structures are very important, especially for users who are using screen readers. Correct heading structures assist users by guiding them towards relevant content.

For example the heading structures that I have used for this blog post are:

  • Heading One (H1) - Making Your Website Accessible For Everyone
  • Heading Two (H2) - How content editors can improve their website accessibility
  • Heading Three (H3) - Alternative text attributes and how they assist accessibility (related articles to H2)
  • Heading Four (H4) - Visuals representation of text attributes and how they assist accessibility (related articles to H3)

Alternative text attributes and how they assist accessibility

For those using a screen reader, providing alternative text attributes helps the user to understand image content e.g. describing what is contained in the image. It is important that an alternative text attribute is descriptive in nature, getting the message across as clearly as possible.

Visuals representation of text attributes and how they assist accessibility

This is a picture of an event (A group of Webfactory employees attending the Eir Awards):

The Webfactory team at the Eir Spiders Awards. Webfactory has been shortlisted for the Agency Of The Year award.

An alternative text would be: “webfactory-group.jpg”. The screen reader would then read back to the user: “image, webfactory-group.jpg".

A correct alternative text attribute would be: “The Webfactory team at the Eir Spider’s Awards. Webfactory has been shortlisted for the Agency Of The Year award.” The screen reader would then read back to the user: “Image of the Webfactory team at the Eir Spider Awards. Webfactory has been shortlisted for the Agency Of The Year award.”

Making your text content more accessible

Don’t be afraid of white space. It helps users who have difficulty reading walls of text, and leads to a more visually appealing experience for all users.

Cutting down your content to copy that is relatively easy to read in font size, spacing, and reading level is good for everyone. According to the Nielsen Norman Group: “On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”

Simplifying your text content can only help people with limited literacy levels or learning difficulties, and should lead to your message being clearer to everyone. All the more so now that we know reading on mobile puts more demand on reading comprehension and speed.


Making audio and video information more accessible

These days, a large amount of content is in video and audio formats. Much of this can be inaccessible to users who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. With just a couple of extra steps, you could change that. It should also be noted that increasingly more people watch videos on silent, particularly on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Digiday reported that as much as 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.

What changes can you make?

  • Include captions

  • Transcript with a link to view - this should ideally be placed below the video.

  • Include Irish Sign Language - you can read more about this on my blog post highlighting access to information for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.


Technological advancements and accessibility

There continues to be more advances in technology. Just last week, we read about Nadia who is a virtual chatbot that can “not only portray human emotion, but also read human facial expressions”. Nadia is voiced by Cate Blanchett and was designed by the Australian government to help people with disabilities access the National Disability Insurance Scheme there.

The hope is that as advances like this become part of daily life, they will lead to more platforms becoming increasingly accessible to as many people as possible.


Next steps…

Is increased accessibility an area your company should be looking at in 2017? Can your company expand its market share by increasing accessibility for all users? Want to have your site’s accessibility audited? I have left you with lots of questions and if you would like answers to some of these please get in touch with us today at Webfactory where we will be able to help.

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Ronan Lowry

Web Developer

The author

Ronan is a Web Developer at Webfactory, with over 10 years working within the digital media industry. Ronan has an interest in all areas of digital matters including a variety of threads on web design/development and digital marketing.

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