There are a few extra steps to take in order to make a website accessible, however most web designers don’t necessarily have accessibility in mind when creating apps and webpages. Given how vital the Internet has become to daily life, making your website accessible to all users is an increasingly important task to accomplish.
- Choose a simple, accessible design: Sites like WordPress and Blogspot allow you to use a template for your website, but not all templates are the same. Confusing formats and HTML add-ons can alter how screen readers read the website, which can lead to a confusing experience. Some web designers have made templates that are specifically designed for accessibility, but if all else fails, keep it simple.
- Use alternative text for your pictures: You need alternative text for your images. Without it, screen readers do not detect your images, and any information they contain cannot be relayed to many users. Adding simple, descriptive alternative text not only makes images accessible for blind or low-vision users, but also provides a descriptive placeholder in instances when a user cannot load the photo on your webpage properly.
- Use clear page headings to break up text: Screen readers automatically search for headings on websites; when those headings are present, they make it easier for blind or low-vision users to have content read back to them.
- Use lists instead of tables whenever possible: Screen readers can read data tables, but the result is something confusing for the listener. Organizing information into numbered or bulleted lists will help in making your data accessible.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms: Screen readers cannot detect most acronyms and will read them aloud as words instead. They also can’t recognize abbreviations, reading them as they are as opposed to the full word they are standing in for.
- Describe links embedded in text: If you include hyperlinks, don’t just write “click here.” Include a clear description of what you are linking to.
- Install a text enlarger: Most website builders like WordPress and Blogspot include widgets or apps that allow users to control the size of text, which makes reading your site easier for low-vision users.
- Allow for highlighting and color contrast: Don’t use any script or CSS that prevents users from highlighting text. If possible, use a simple color contrast scheme to help low-vision users. Alternately, you can install an app that allows users to read your site in plain text.
- Include a “skip to content” link: Give users the option to skip past drop-down menus and images with a “skip to content” link at the top of the page.