Friday, October 9, 2015

How To Boost Your Website's Accessibility

In order to boost the availability of your domain to the widest possible audience, you should take its accessibility very seriously. It is very important for you to have it at the back of your mind that your website would be accessed by those who are disabled and those who are not. But unfortunately, majority of us do not consider the disabled when building our websites. In some countries, you would be violating the Disability Discrimination Act if your site is not accessible to people with disabilities. As a result, I will reveal top techniques in ensuring that your website is accessible to all - even to those with disabilities.

Be Careful with Your Choice Of Colors: You should consider those who are suffering from color-blindness when developing your website. The most common types of color blindness are Deuteranopia and Protanopia, and sufferers from these cannot distinguish between red, green and similar colors properly. Consequently, you should be careful with the way you use these colors and as a rule, you can use ideal background colors or underline them in order to bring them out. You should also ensure that you maintain a high level of contrast between the foreground and background elements of your domain. The minimum suggested contrast ratio is 4.5:1 and for standard-sized body text, the perfect ratio is 7:1. Also, whenever you have important information, you should make sure that you use a black text on a white background so that everyone can read it, either color-blind or not.

Use A More Descriptive Link: Those who are blind make use of screen readers to read web pages and they may decide to navigate through the links in order to find interesting things. Hence, you should describe your links appropriately instead of just using 'click here' or 'read more' because that is what the user will hear in isolation during navigation. For example, 'click here for more information on free domain names' would be a better option.

Provide Text Alternatives For Non-text: This is very essential in order to enable those who cannot access them change them to other forms like Braille, large prints, symbols or simple languages. For instance, if you have a video or audio on your site, you can include a transcript so that users can download or read on the domain. You can also provide a link to a text-only version of your site and those with slow internet connection would be glad for this.

Use Proper Tab Indexes: The tab index usually generates the order of elements that a user will cycle through when making use of the 'Tab' key. It is important to design your web pages in such a logical order and implement strong hierarchy starting with headings, to sub-headings and so on. When designing a page with forms, you must ensure that all the elements of the form are properly indexed in order to boost its accessibility.

Use Proper Alt Attribute: Alt attributes are used to describe images in HTML language. The alt attributes are read by assistive technologies (such as screen readers), search engines and displayed instead of images when the internet connection is slow or a text-only browser is being used. As a result of this, you should describe your images properly. For example, if an image shows 'students sitting down in a classroom', you should describe it as such and not 'picture of students'.

Enable Access Keys: By enabling access key on your domain, you are boosting its accessibility. Access keys are basically keyboard shortcuts and those who rely on keyboards alone to navigate websites would find them very useful. Even though there is no universal set of assigned keys for users, common ones are S (skip navigation), 1 (Home Page), 2 (News/Update), 3 (Site Map), 4 (Search), 5 (FAQ), 6 (Help), 7 (Complaints Procedure), 8 (Terms & Conditions), 9 (Feedback Form), 10 (Access Key Information), just to mention a few.

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