Orlando Web Design
What is Accessibility in Web design?
When it comes to making websites accessible to all users, it is important to remember the difference of capabilities among site visitors, and therefore the myriad of needs that might arise. Here is when accessible web design is necessary and mandatory by law, since valuable information and services are made available through websites. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, if the government entities receive federal funding, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 generally require that state and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden”.
Although there is an special emphasis on government websites to provide equal access to information and services, the ADA still recommends best practices for web design to ensure accessibility to users, regardless of ability. Some of the best practices include:
- Establish, implement, and post online a policy that your webpages will be accessible and create a process for implementation.
- When updating webpages, remember to ensure that updates are accessible. For example, when images change, the text equivalents in “alt” tags and long descriptions need to be changed so they match the new images.
- Periodically enlist disability groups to test your pages for ease of use; use the feedback they provide to increase the accessibility of your website
What are Common Website accessibility Issues?
The ADA has also established common website problems that jeopardize accessibility. Among the most important ones, we have:
- Problem: Images Without Text Equivalents
Blind people, those with low vision, and people with other disabilities that affect their ability to read a computer display often use different technologies so they can access the information displayed on a webpage.
- Problem: Documents Are Not Posted In an Accessible Format
State and local governments will often post documents on their websites using Portable Document Format (PDF). But PDF documents, or those in other image based formats, are often not accessible to blind people who use screen readers and people with low vision who use text enlargement programs or different color and font settings to read computer displays.Webpage designers often have aesthetic preferences and may want everyone to see their webpages in exactly the same color, size and layout. But because of their disability, many people with low vision do not see webpages the same as other people. Some see only small portions of a computer display at one time. Others cannot see text or images that are too small. Still others can only see website content if it appears in specific colors. For these reasons, many people with low vision use specific color and font settings when they access the Internet – settings that are often very different from those most people use.
- Problem: Videos and Other Multimedia Lack Accessible Features
These and other types of multimedia can present two distinct problems for people with different disabilities. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can generally see the information presented on webpages. But a deaf person or someone who is hard of hearing may not be able to hear the audio track of a video. On the other hand, persons who are blind or have low vision are frequently unable to see the video images but can hear the audio track.
How to make a website accessible or ADA compliant?
The ADA also offers a very thorough checklist to determine whether or not your website is ADA compliant. Some of the items on the checklist include:
- Does the top of each page navigation links have a “skip navigation” link? (This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the webpage content, thus enabling people who use screen readers to avoid having to listen to all the links each time they move to a new page.)
- Are all of the documents posted on your website available in HTML or another text-based format (for example, rich text format (RTF) or word processing format), even if you are also providing them in another format, such as Portable Document Format (PDF)?
- Do all video files on your website have audio descriptions of what is being displayed to provide access to visually conveyed information for people who are blind or have low vision?
How to test if my website is ADA compliant?
If after reading this article, you are still wondering “is my website ADA compliant?” visit this great web accessibility evaluation tool! This tool gives you a detailed summary of errors or features in your website that could act as an online barrier for users with disabilities.
The internet has become a necessity in today’s society, so equal access to services and information is vital regardless of industry. Make sure every site visitor feels welcome when entering your website!
Orlando Web Design Company
If you need help making your website ADA compliant, contact us! We are an experienced Orlando Web Design company and can help you fix your website’s accessibility.