What Are The Best Practices For Website Accessibility, And How Can I Ensure My Website Is Accessible To Everyone?

What are the Best Practices for Website Accessibility | using notebook computer for online shopping

Website accessibility is not only an ethical responsibility, but it also offers financial benefits. With nearly 15% of the world’s population living with some form of disability, ensuring your website is accessible to everyone is crucial. But, what exactly does website accessibility entail, and how can you ensure your website is accessible to everyone? In this blog post, we’ll go over the 15 best practices for website accessibility that will ensure your website is welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to people with disabilities.

Keyboard Accessibility

One of the significant reasons behind website inaccessibility is the lack of keyboard accessibility. Many individuals with disabilities rely on a keyboard to navigate through the website. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that users can use the keyboard throughout the website. One way to enhance keyboard navigation on your website is by ensuring that the design is intuitive and has hierarchical navigation (navigate to objects from top to bottom). Make sure the website responds to the ‘tab’ key in a logical order, as well as the ‘Enter’ and the ‘ESC’ keys. Implementing keyboard shortcuts will go a long way in improving website accessibility.

Alt Text

Images are an excellent way to enhance your website’s visual appeal, but they can also create barriers to accessibility. Not all website visitors can see images on your site. That’s why it’s important to provide alternative text or “Alt text” for each image on your website. Alt text is a short description of the image that screen readers read aloud, making it easier for visually impaired users to understand and enjoy your content. Alt Text is also used when an image fails to load. 

Use Descriptive Headings and Labels

Headings are an essential feature of web content, and using descriptive headings can make a world of difference to those with visual impairments.  Providing descriptive headings and labels helps screen readers navigate the website and understand its structure. This also helps users quickly locate the information they are looking for. It is important to use descriptive labels for form fields, buttons, and links. Use H1 for your main heading and H2-H6 for subheadings.

Ensure Proper Colour Contrast

Colour contrast is an important aspect of website accessibility. Low contrast colours can make it difficult for people with vision impairments to read the content of the web page. Use a colour checker to ensure that the colour contrast meets the WCAG guidelines (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). A contrast checker tool to ensure proper colour contrast between the text and background.

Video Captioning

Videos are a great way to engage with your audience, but they can also create accessibility barriers. To ensure that everyone can access your website’s video content, add captions and transcripts. Captions provide text descriptions of the spoken words and other sounds in a video. Transcripts provide a written version of the video’s spoken content.

Bright and Coherent Contrast

Colour contrast is a crucial aspect of website accessibility, as it can affect how visually impaired users perceive your content.  Website visitors require the correct contrast between elements on a website for easier reading and comprehension. 

High contrast between colours on a website makes it easy to read and understand information. It is better for individuals with visual impairments. To meet accessibility standards, ensure that your website’s colours have a good contrast ratio. You can use a contrast checker tool to make sure your website meets WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines.

Consistent Navigation

Ensuring that your website navigation remains consistent is essential for providing a positive user experience. Consistent and clear navigation makes it easier for website visitors to find what they’re looking for. Consistency in navigation ensures that the user knows what to expect upon visiting your website.  It helps visitors with cognitive disorders better understand your website. Ideally, the navigation should be in the same place on each page and the menu items should be in the same order. 

Avoid Flashing Content

Flashing content, such as animated GIFs, is dangerous for individuals suffering from conditions like epilepsy or photosensitive migraines. Automated moving or flashing content can trigger such medical conditions. Therefore, you should avoid using flashing content altogether or limit its use and offer a warning before use. Make sure that there is no flashing content on your website or provide an option to disable such content.

User-Friendly Forms and Documents

User-friendly forms are essential for allowing visitors to websites to interact with the website comfortably. They allow people with cognitive problems to complete forms seamlessly. A user-friendly form should, among other things, have clear instructions, logical alignment, adequate spacing, and error messages where applicable. 

PDFs and other downloadable documents on your website should be accessible as well. Make sure that the PDFs are accessible by tagging and having an outline structure. Also, provide a plain text version of the document or an accessible HTML version for those who use screen readers.

Use Descriptive Links

Descriptive links help users understand what they are clicking on. When you use phrases like “click here,” it can be unclear for people with screen readers or other assistive devices. Use descriptive links instead, by adding a unique description for each link. This way, the user knows where the link will take them before they even click on it. Using descriptive links helps visually impaired website visitors understand the purpose of the link. 

Easy language

Using easy language is essential in making web content accessible to everyone. Use simple, direct sentences, and brief paragraphs. Avoid technical jargon or complex language that may be difficult for some users to understand. Write your content simply and concisely. This will assist people with cognitive disorders in understanding the information on your website.

Design for User Flexibility

Considering a user’s flexibility when designing a website goes a long way in ensuring accessibility. It is one of the key aspects of designing a website. Designing for user flexibility involves making sure that the website is operable for people with different abilities, such as those with visual or movement impairments. Make sure the font size is adjustable, and the text and background contrast make it easier for visually impaired individuals to read. Users should be able to change the font size, colour, and contrast to suit their individual preferences.

Provide Sufficient Time

Some individuals may require more time to interact with your website. Therefore, it’s essential to provide sufficient time for users to interact with dynamic content. Ensure that users can pause, stop, or hide any content that moves, and avoid setting a time limit to interact with the website without warning the user about it. Ensure that user-generated controls, such as forms, remain available for an adequate period. You should allow users ample time to read, comprehend, and interact with the content of your website. Adequate time for interaction is essential when creating inclusive websites.

Keep Websites Simple

Simplicity is key to ensuring website accessibility. A website’s design should remain simple and intuitive.  The simpler the website, the easier it is for users with disabilities to navigate it. An uncluttered design helps people with cognitive or neurological disorders focus on the content. Also, a simple website with clear CTAs and language helps visitors focus on the essential parts of the website. Ensure that the language used is simple, clear, and concise.

Test for Accessibility

While following the guidelines should ensure that your website is accessible to all, it’s vital that you test your website for accessibility. There are multiple ways to test for website accessibility, including using an accessibility checker. These tools analyse your website and give you feedback on areas that need improvement.

Let’s make a more Inclusive Internet with Web Accessibility

Creating an inclusive website requires time, attention, and effort. The Trident team can help you with an accessibility audit of your website to check and rectify any errors. Our team will ensure that when completing custom work for your website we adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), for website accessibility. 

There are currently 3 guidelines: A, AA, and AAA. As professionals, we advise that you aim for level AA, as this is what most organisations aim for, and it meets the legal requirements in many jurisdictions. Have your developer team run accessibility tests regularly to make sure there are no unforeseen issues.

Let’s work together to create a more inclusive internet with web accessibility. Reach out to the Trident team for an accessibility audit of your website and let us help you check and rectify any errors. Regular accessibility tests by your development team will ensure that your website remains accessible to all. Contact us now to get started!

Blog post by Adam Burrage

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