Did you know that 1 out of 5 U.S. adults has a disability? (Source.) These disabilities can be visual, cognitive, auditory, physical, speech and/or neurological.
In March, I attended a website accessibility workshop during WordCamp St. Louis. While I was aware of web accessibility (it’s even a part of my website audit), it was a truly an eye-opening presentation.
I bet you can’t imagine life without the internet and your smartphone. (I often wonder how I was able to get anywhere before my iPhone!) Now, think about what life would be like if you had a disability that made using the internet challenging.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility enables individuals with disabilities to use the web. Creating an accessible website helps ensure that all users have the ability to use and interact with that website.
While it might be easy to think this doesn’t pertain to you and your website, 1 in 5 adults have a disability and might visit your website. Even if most of your website traffic doesn’t fall into that category, keeping best practices in mind as you design your website is key.
Web Accessibility Best Practices
When designing a website or updating a page on your site, these best practices are all important to keep in mind. Not only will they benefit individuals with disabilities, it will also improve your SEO and make your site easier for others to use as well.
People who have visual impairments often use screen readers, software that reads the computer screen and allows users to navigate and interact with websites. Screen readers look at the HTML code to determine the order in which to read the elements on a page.
- Using header tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) correctly is essential to web accessibility. A screen reader sees the tags as an outline of the page.
- If you want to make your website more accessibility-friendly, you can use ARIA to direct the screen reader.
- ARIA is a set of attributes that can be added to HTML to direct a screen reader through a page.
- Link names should be descriptive. Do not use “click here”.
When you chose your brand colors, you might have chosen them because the color palette is pretty or your target audience responds to them. While it’s important to engage your target market, be sure to also consider individuals with visual impairments or color blindness. Selecting certain colors will help them easily view your website and consume your content. This, in return, maximizes your reach.
- Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning.
- The most common types of color blindness have difficulty distinguishing red and green or blue and yellow, so be sure to stay away from those combinations.
- Use the colorblind webpage filter to see what your website looks like to someone who is color blind.
- Good contrast between the background and type makes your website easier for everyone to read.
- Check to see if your background and text pass the color contrast test.
- Do not use two high contrast colors together because the color can look like it’s vibrating, much like these psychedelic posters from the 1960s.
In order to make multimedia accessible to all, there are a few simple things you can do to make your images, audio and video more accessible. Plus, it will boost your SEO!
- Always fill out the alt text on an image
- When a screen reader gets to an image, it will read the alt text.
- If you do not include alt text, it will read the image filename (IMG_1234.jpg, anyone?).
- Alt text should describe the image.
- If you have an image that is for decoration only, add empty quotation (“”) marks to the alt tag.
- Flickering, flashing or strobing images/videos may trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.
- For video, closed caption allows those with hearing problems to still engage.
- All audio files should have an accompanying transcript.
Keeping these best practices in mind when creating a new webpage will help make your site more accessible to everyone and improve your website’s SEO. Increased SEO can lead to an increase in traffic and more eyes on your website mean more clients and sales! While you do not have to implement each and every item, decide what might be most helpful to your audience and make a few simple changes.
Dreaming of ranking on the front page of Google?!
The amazing video strategist, Trena Little, and I have teamed up to offer a FREE a training on improving your website SEO with video!
We are going to show you:
- Exactly how video boosts your website SEO
- How to embed your video on your website
- 2 Easy video ideas you can get started with today
- 3 Tips for making video content creation simple!
You won’t want to miss this one!
Thursday, May 11 @ 1pm EST / 10am PST