Across the U.S., approximately one in four people has a disability, according to the CDC. This is a large sector of any consumer audience, from prospective college students and parents to potential retail clients and health care patients.

With thoughtful planning and testing, you can help make your website experience more accessible to users with visual, hearing, and cognitive conditions such as autism.

As such, and in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we compiled this high-level overview to help stimulate conversation and action around accessibility, why it’s so important, and how organizations can create and update more accessible sites.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility in the website world refers to a process of developing, designing, implementing, and testing back- and front-end functionalities and features that allow individuals with different abilities to more easily engage with web content.

When we talk about web content, we mean more than just words on a page. Content also includes sounds, images, dynamic content, module content, multimedia widgets, and mobile functionalities.

Public-serving industries such as health care and higher education must adhere to minimum accessibility guidelines or they will receive notices or potentially fines from the U.S. government.

In talking with our clients, we’ve pinpointed four common areas that organizations tend to overlook in development–and ideas for testing and refining for better accessibility.

4 common accessibility errors, plus tips valuation

Developers are challenged to experience their sites from the perspective of a differently abled person by accessing the web with a range of considerations in mind:

  1. Mouseless functionality: Accessible sites are navigable without a mouse or touchpad. Visitors should be able to easily toggle through menus, images, and links without clicking a mouse.
  2. Screen reader-friendly: The site’s alt-text, image names, links, and captions must be labeled and displayed so as to be accurately translated by a screen reader.
  3. Coloration: Colors and contrast ranges must be WCAG-compliant. Learn more.
  4. Fonts and sizes: Text, images, and widgets should still be consumable and functional (and in proper order of action) when enlarged to 200 percent zoom, as a loose rule.

Every site we design is fully accessible, meaning we proactively design and develop to meet or exceed WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 standards alongside client preferences. We validate the success of our sites by involving third-party testing for responsiveness, usability, and accessibility.

As you test your own site, it can be helpful to have someone unaffiliated with your organization review your pages to uncover usability issues you might not notice day to day. No site will ever be 100 percent error-free, but it’s imperative to continue trying to get as close as possible. We can always do better—and that’s what GAAD is all about.

Ready to move toward a more accessible website? Schedule a free accessibility assessment now.

Several colleges and community organizations are holding accessibility events this year. Find a full list of GAAD events near you.

 

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