The importance of a fantastic user experience (UX) for your app or website is becoming more apparent all the time, with potential customers quickly shying away from online experiences that are not optimized for the best possible experience. But what about the user experience of those with disabilities and/or those who rely on screen readers? Creating a website that is fully accessible to those with disabilities may not be the first thing on your mind when starting up a new business. However, web accessibility is becoming increasingly important to businesses, developers, and of course, those with disabilities. In this article, we take a look at 3 simple ways to improve web accessibility for those who require accessible design.
Did you know that web accessibility starts with something as simple as choosing your colors? It’s important to keep in mind when designing your website that there are various degrees of blindness, and that includes color blindness. Someone who is color blind may be able to access the majority of your website just fine, until they come across two non-contrasting colors.
DreamHost.com tells us more on how you can make your website more accessible by simply paying attention to the colors used:
“We often talk about color blindness as if it’s a, no pun intended, black-and-white issue. However, it’s more of a spectrum since different people perceive colors in unique ways (remember The Dress)? As such, you need to make sure the colors you select on your site contrast well to ensure that everyone can distinguish between various elements on the page. The most pressing issue is making sure text stands out against the background. Ideally, you should set a dark color against a light one, making sure that they don’t bleed into each other.”
The purpose of alt text is to describe images to visitors who are unable to see them. While alt text partially exists for browsers that block images, it is heavily relied upon for those who require screen readers.
Jazmine Betz of Learning Hub explains why website developers need to pay extra attention to alt text for those who use screen readers, are visually impaired or cannot see images for a variety of other reasons:
“Alt text is often forgotten when images are added to web pages. After all, most people only use alt text when searching for images in a search engine or conducting a reverse image search. But for people using screen readers, alt text is all they have to rely on to learn about a displayed image. Users can get confused if an image’s alt text isn’t changed or isn’t necessarily representative of what the image depicts. This is especially harmful if the image is critical to understanding the webpage.”
We must stress, avoiding abbreviations and spelling mistakes is important whether or not you are looking to improve web accessibility! However, a simple spelling mistake can completely throw off someone who relies solely on a screen reader to receive information, with abbreviations being just as confusing.
Content Marketing Institute tells us what you can do when you’re writing your content to make it more accessible:
“Proofreading is important no matter who – or what – will read your content. But accurate spelling and grammar are especially important for screen readers. Misspellings can cause screen readers to mispronounce a word. You also should take steps to avoid screen readers pronouncing acronyms as words – think “mlah” for MLA, the abbreviation for Modern Language Association. Among the better options: Eliminate abbreviations, use periods between the letters (M.L.A.) or spell out the words at first mention followed by its acronym (Modern Language Association [MLA]).”
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