One thing that is very common in building codes is making sure that those that have a disability can access services just like their able-bodied counterparts. Websites are no different. Small business owners we speak to have not considered website accessibility when thinking about how users access websites. Here are website accessibility tips for small business to keep in mind when building your website, or hiring someone to build it for you.
What is Website Accessibility?
In the United States, the American’s with Disabilities Act requires websites be accessible to people of all abilities. Websites must be designed so people of all abilities can access information and purchase products. There are similar laws in other countries such as Great Britain. From a business perspective, an accessible website just makes good business sense. The more people who are able to visit and navigate your website, the more potential new and repeat business.
PULL QUOTE> One in four adults in the US have some type of disability. (CDC)
Three Examples of Website Accessibility Issues
So you may be wondering if your website is accessible to all. There is no sure fire way without an accessibility audit, but there are three examples of obvious red flags in which a website would not be accessible to all.
Text Contrast, or Lack of It
A common website accessibility issue is light color text on a light background. This does not provide enough contrast and may be unreadable for a vision- impaired person. We find this a common problem among many sites that are designed with what we call a “light and airy” design approach. While they may look beautiful to someone without vision impairment, they are difficult, if not impossible for a vision impaired person to read. We have a contrast checker at the bottom of the page in which you can check the colors against each other to see if they provide enough contrast.
Another common problem is the inability for a site visitor to toggle through the site using the tab key rather than click using the mouse. Many people with disabilities are not able to use the mouse so they rely on the ability to tab from link to link, sometimes using a joystick. If the website is not designed in a way to allow this navigation, it is frustrating for a disabled person. Go to your website and try to tab through your site using just the tab key. Does it skip menu items? Does it jump around in a method that seems out of order? Then it does not pass this test.
Screen Reader Failures
The third very common issue is when websites are not built for screen readers. If a blind person visits a website using a screen reader, the website must be built so that the screen reader can read to the user what they can not see visually. Common issues that cause screen readers to fail include not having alternative or Alt-text on images and having text inside form fields rather than above the form fields. If your site misses the mark on either of these, it is not accessible.
Helpful Tips For Website Accessibility
Accessibility is of utmost importance in website design and development. Here we have outlined a few tips to get you started.
- Make website accessibility a focus of the design of your website from the start, not an afterthought.
- Acquaint yourself with the resources provided below to learn what goes into building for accessibility.
- Allocate additional time and financial resources as more time will likely be needed to address accessibility for your website.
- Enlist the help of a website developer well versed in this accessibility as it is a extremely important.
We Can Help!
The tips for website accessibility we provided give you insight on how to start the journey to accessibility for your website. The examples are three easy to spot issues, but a lot more goes into making sure that people of all abilities can access websites. We can assist you with building to accessibility. We do website design and development, WordPress Care Plans, website audits, and as-needed support with our HelpMe! service. We offer a free, no obligation consultation. Give us a call, send us an email, or schedule a time to chat directly on our calendar. We look forward to assisting you!