What are the types of disabilities are we talking about here?
1. Visual Impairment such as colour blindness, being not able to differentiate between certain colours like green and yellow. Some of the visually impaired are unable to read small fonts.
2. Hearing Impairment. Some readers may have a reduced ability to hear the audio in your videos.
3. Physical disability or Motor disability. Some readers may have difficulty in navigating your website with a mouse. They may rely on the keyboard to navigate your website instead.
4. Photosensitive Seizures; sensitivity to flashing lights. Some readers might be sensitive to videos or graphics with bright flashing images due to over exposure to visual stimuli.
5. Cognitive Disability such as dyslexia. They may have difficulty in reading the content on your website if the layout and fonts are overly distracting.
Why you should strive to ensure that your website is disabled friendly?
The immediate benefit of having a website that is disabled friendly is that it expands your potential audience. Having more readers to your site is certainly an objective for many of us content writers.
While there are no clear website accessibility guidelines, it is our imperative as website owners to make the world (including the world wide web) a better and inclusive place for everyone.
At the time of writing, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) only requires certain businesses to make accomodations for people with disabilities. They include businesses that is in an industry that is engaged with commerce, employing 15 or more full time employees on each working day and operates business for at least or more than 20 calendar weeks a year.
How can you make your website disabled friendly?
1. Use Alt Tags
Ensure that you label every image you have via the Alt tags. Describe them as succinctly as you can. This will be a great help to the visually impaired to know what is the image about.
2. Create subtitles and transcripts
For the hearing impaired, it is useful to create text transcripts and subtitles for your videos. You can refer to the tutorial by YouTube that teaches you how to add your own subtitles and closed captions.
3. Describe your links
Instead of saying “click here” for your hyperlinks, describe what the hyperlink is about. Also, it helps to use contrasting colours for the hyperlinks so that it is easy to spot.
4. Black text on white background
By far the easiest text to read is black text on white background. Not only does it look formal, it is easy on the eyes even for those who are not visually impaired.
5. Increase surface area for clickable area
Be it text links, image links or the home page button, it helps to increase the surface of the clickable area as not every one has nimble fingers. They may not able to navigate the page as easily the rest of the people.
6. Break down your content into smaller paragraphs. Use headers.
By breaking down large chunks of text into smaller paragraphs, you are doing your readers a huge favour. It is easier for your readers to skim through the text to locate the information that they require. They will lose interest quickly as compared to when they are faced with a large chunk of text with no sub headings.
It is also easier for those who have difficulty in reading texts such as those who are dyslexic.
7. Keyboard friendly
Making your website keyboard friendly will be a great help for those physically impaired. Some readers have difficulty in navigating websites with a mouse, instead they rely on the keyboard to do so.
8. Make your website friendly for text to voice software
Make sure to use dots when there are abbreviations. For example, use “F.B.I” instead of “FBI” as the software will read it as “fa-bay”. Also, label every image so that the software can “read” the image.
Resources to help you to make your website disabled friendly
To see how your website fares to a reader with disability, you can download the extension by Chrome and have a go.
2. Free Google course on Web Accessibility
Course covered by Udacity in conjunction with Google: https://www.udacity.com/course/web-accessibility–ud891
Text-based version: https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals
Navigate to “accessibility” under Design and User Experience category to learn from the experts at Google on how to make your website usable for everyone.
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative provides various resources for website owners with different roles, such as content writes, designers and developers.
Some of the content covered in this article can be found on W3C website as well under the content writer’s category.
Web Accessibility in Mind aims to empower organisation to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities.
One of the article which I found useful is its article on Key Accessibility. The article teaches readers how to perform keyboard testing for accessibility. The “Tab”, “Enter” and “Spacebar” buttons are primarily used to navigate the web page. We have to understand the functions of each button and its expected result when performing the test.
What do you think of this article? Does it help you to make the website more accessible for the disabled and everyone else? Do let me know by leaving a comment!