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How to Make Your Website More Accessible

As use of the internet continues to expand, there is a substantial number of users who are unable to access all the online universe has to offer.

Creating accessibility has become a big challenge for modern web designers, but it’s worth the effort.

Taking the proper steps to enhance accessibility improves the chances of more people accessing your site and seeing what you have to offer.

To accommodate the need for accessibility and simplicity of use, there is no better time than now to make the proper changes to your website’s design.

Whether you are in the beginning stages of your website’s development, or are a practiced web-design expert, the following tips can help improve your site’s accessibility.


Select an Accessible Content Management Platform

While there are many content management platforms to help you build your website, Drupal and WordPress are two of the most common. When you have selected the appropriate CMS for you, be sure to select a theme or layout that is also accessible.

Check the theme’s documentation for information on how to create accessible content with it. When it comes to editing toolbars, ensure they feature accessible options for headings and tables. Ensure video players have closed captioning as well.


Use Correct Content Formatting

Utilize headers to assist you in establishing a structure for the page. The correct use of headers and subheadings can help search engines and screen readers determine how your website organizes its content.

Avoid selecting a header simply because it looks nice, as this can impede the effectiveness of screen readers.


Feature Descriptive Links

When making links within your content, use text that specifically indicates where the link will take the user. A link simply stating “click here” is not descriptive and cannot provide someone using a screen reader with the necessary information.

Since visually-impaired individuals can use their screen readers to look for links, screen readers usually don’t read the link as a part of the rest of the page’s content. Incorporating descriptive text properly describes the content of each link to the screen reader user, making it easier for them to navigate your site.


Provide Text Descriptions for Images and Videos

Feature text descriptions for all images and videos on your website. Since screen readers cannot read images and videos, providing text descriptions can help visually challenged individuals grasp the meaning of this type of content.

You can easily describe an image with either an alt text or caption. Having a text description is particularly crucial for informational visuals, like infographics, so always provide the correlated text next to your images in order to properly communicate the intended message.


Incorporate and Sustain a Sitemap

Sitemaps are not only for the assistance of search engines. They can assist with site accessibility as well. Sitemaps enable people to navigate around a website and should be incorporated in all sites.


Use Simple Numbering in Lists

When creating lists, try making them smaller rather than bigger. It is also a good idea to reduce the use of nested lists, which can disturb the functioning of screen readers.


Use Color Appropriately

Individuals with certain disabilities will benefit from color when it is used as a means of identifying and organizing a website’s content. Use color in conjunction with other visual markers, such as question marks, asterisks, and other forms of punctuation. Make sure to use visual gaps, like white space or borders, to separate portions of content from one another.

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You might also want to consider featuring high contrasting colors on your website. Distinguishing colors can help visually challenged individuals, such as those who are colorblind, move throughout your website and understand its navigation.


Create Improved Navigation Routing

Providing users with a definitive and easy to use means of navigating your site is imperative. The format of your navigation should be orderly and feature clear names that are universally recognized.

While many website designers enjoy being creative, using words everyone is familiar with will assist people in understanding how to get around your site.


Don’t Use the Flash Plug-In

Most disabled users can’t see Flash or use it as a means of navigating. As a testament to its outdatedness, Google has opted not to use Flash in its advertisements anymore, and Mozilla has also decided not to promote the Flash plug-in.

Flash players also consume computer memory, and when a user’s Flash player isn’t up-to-date, it won’t load your site.

The chances of a consumer taking the time to update their Flash player solely to view your site are slim to none. This, in addition to the fact that Flash players are not compatible with mobile devices, demonstrate the importance of stopping their use.

Instead of Flash, use HTML 5, which is a modern and more efficient web design enhancement. Read about the HTML5 semantic elements to get tips for using HTML 5.


Put Primary Content Above the Fold

There are a few different components of your site that are visible above the fold, including navigation links, a call-to-action, and perhaps advertisements. However, these elements can be annoying, particularly to disabled individuals using your website.

For example, the use of fixed headers, such as branding blocks and navigation menus with a set position at the top of a website, can impede the user’s ability to view the content beneath them.

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Screen readers evaluate information vertically from top to bottom. Having too much material above the fold makes the process of accessing information below the fold all the more time-consuming and inconvenient for those using these assistive devices.

Make sure your content is delivered immediately above the fold, so screen readers can have swift and easy access to it.


Never Use Flashing Effects

Disable any content or graphics including flashing effects. Never use flashing content when creating animations and advertisements. Flickering is not only irritating to many users, but it can cause seizures in people with a range of different health conditions.


Avoid Tables

While tables can be a good means of organizing and processing data accurately, they are not helpful when it comes to creating an accessible website.

Due to their non-linear structure and characteristics, screen readers and other forms of accessible digital devices can’t read or comprehend the data given in tables. Try to steer clear of them when designing your website.


Label Form Components

Properly labeling all form elements provides users with enhanced guidance when navigating and interacting with your website’s buttons and content.


Include Keyboard Shortcuts

Adding keyboard shortcuts to your site can assist users with disabilities who don’t use a computer mouse to navigate the internet. Motor-impaired individuals find that sites with keyboard shortcuts make the process of moving around a website far easier and quicker. Keyboard shortcuts can also create a more convenient experience for users across the board.


Establish a Consistent Layout

Ensuring your layout is simple and clear is the best means of creating accessibility. Even though intricate website designs can bolster the experience of some users, fancy designs can frustrate others and make navigation more complicated than it should be. Opting for a minimalist design based on a consistent format can make navigating easier for all viewers.


Disable Automatic Settings

Some individuals may need more time before scrolling or moving onto the next page of content. Others may scroll down your page and navigate through content faster.

Instead of having various components of your website completely automated, give the user the capacity to enable these elements themselves by turning the automatic settings off. Consider automatic features such as playing video and audio clips, moving to the next page, and scrolling.


Evaluate and Confirm

Conduct a performance analysis of the changes made to your website by executing comprehensive testing across various devices and channels. As the scope of the internet continues to change, there is no doubt there will be advances in providing users with an accessible experience.

Keep an eye out for innovations, tips, and advice to assist you in crafting accessible websites and optimizing your website’s UX for all individuals.

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