1 in 6 Australians have a disability – that’s over 4.4 million people. It can be easy to set aside accessibility changes in favour of improving the development and design of a website or optimising the site for SEO but ensuring that everyone can view and interact with your website is extremely important. Not only is it increasing awareness for web accessibility, but you’re also helping your customers!
People who have impaired vision, colour-blindness, motor controls, learning disabilities, or are deaf or hard of hearing need to be able to access your website, and making your website accessible for them is incredibly easy – there are even plugins and programs that do it all for you.
Last week, we covered the textual changes you can make to increase accessibility on your website. This week, we’re covering visual and site changes, as well as our favourite accessibility plugins.
So, here are some more ways that you can make your website accessible.
Part Two: Visual Changes
Contrast sensitivity is the ability to differentiate between two colours, most commonly, between a text colour and a background colour. Our natural contrast sensitivity decreases as we age, and those with colour blindness are also unable to tell certain colours apart. Red-green colour blindness is the most common, but blue-yellow colour blindness also exists.
Adding contrast controls to your website also allows for colour blind and older adults to change the colours and brightness so that they can see and navigate your website. Some different types of contrast controls may include negative contrast (or inverse colours), high contrast, or greyscale, and each may be used depending on the user’s needs.
Easily Identifiable Interactive Elements
Websites, in their nature, are interactive. There are buttons to press, links to click or spaces for text to be written. When choosing the colour of these elements, we can often forget that others may have a hard time seeing them.
Designing for low contrast sensitivity and colour blindness means picking colours with high contrast, so they can be easily seen and including other elements alongside colour. If your buttons solely rely on colour as a means of identification, then they may also need text or an image to direct users to the button, as colour cannot always be visible.
The colour red is often used as a signal for error messages. If your website has a form that clients need to fill out, including a symbol and text alongside the colour will alert colour blind users that there is an issue or if they haven’t filled out the form correctly. Error messages and pop-ups should also include symbols and text alongside colour warnings.
Video Captions and Transcriptions
Video captions are essential for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. They allow users to watch the video, understand the content and are also helpful to those with auditory processing disorders. Auto captioning is a quick and easy way to caption your videos; however, it can often contain mistakes or misunderstand what the audio is saying. Writing your own captions ensures that the information is correct.
Users may also appreciate a transcript of the video, where the captions are fully written out, and the person that is speaking is highlighted. Providing some form of text alongside a video allows all users to more easily access your content.
Part 3: Site Changes
A complicated website layout can confuse everyone who visits your website, but navigating a website can be tricky for those with motor, cognitive, or learning disabilities. Ensure that your menu system is straightforward and logical and that the subsections relate to the main tabs. Having too many web pages can also make your website convoluted and confusing. A simplistic layout will encourage more users and make your website easier to navigate.
Some users, especially the elderly or those with motor disabilities, may be physically unable to use a mouse or find it difficult. Instead, they might use their computer’s keyboard to navigate through a website. Ensuring that your website is accessible via keyboard navigation allows for all users to access your website. As previously discussed, all links and buttons should be accessible and visible, either by highlighting or underlining the link or including high contrast colours. Pressing the TAB button should lead the user to the following link; if this feature isn’t working, it’s time to update your keyboard navigation settings.
Users also need to be able to access dropdown menus and images, and widgets, plugins, and other addons should allow for keyboard navigation.
Also known as text to speech, audio descriptions are helpful to users who are blind or have a visual impairment. This accessibility feature works much like a screen-reader and audibly tells the user the content on the page. Audio descriptions can also work for video content, with the narrator describing what occurs in the video.
If you’re unsure of how to make these changes, why not use a plugin? There are plenty of accessibility plugins that make changing your website easy and increase the accessibility of your website instantly. Here’s a great list of the accessibility plugins you can download today.
If you’d like to know more about making your website accessible, visit our contact page to get in touch with a team member or make an appointment. Have a suggestion as to how we can make our website more accessible, send us a message to let us know!