Digital accessibility encompasses a range of website components, from site architecture, to underlying source code, to individual elements of a single page. While you may not have the ability to tackle all of these overnight, there are some relatively simple, fast, or easy things you can do (even through most CMS interfaces, which are notoriously restrictive) that will have a positive impact on the overall accessibility of your website.
Here are some of our favorite fast and easy website accessibility tips that are likely won’t cost you anything more than an extra couple of minutes of your time. As always, starting with an Initial Domain Analysis (#1 below) will allow you to focus on low effort, high reward items first.
10 Easy Website Accessibility Action Items:
- Know where you stand! There are a lot of free resources available to quickly scan your website or individual web pages that will provide a high-level understanding of how accessible your website actually is. For individual pages, try using our free ARC Toolkit Chrome extension to start getting insights in as little as 5 minutes. TPGi also offers a more comprehensive Initial Domain Analysis for free.
- Always add alternative text so individuals who can’t see the image can still understand what is being conveyed.
- Make it easy for users to skim your website by utilizing header tags appropriately. This way, both visually impaired and non-impaired readers can skim the page (visually impaired users will use assistive technology to accomplish this) to get a basic understanding of the content and will be able to navigate to desired sections easily. Keep dense paragraph copy to a minimum and break up your content with sub-headers.
- Take color contrast into consideration! Some color combinations make it impossible for users with certain visual impairments to actually see what you are trying to convey. TPGi has a free Color Contrast Checker tool that you can use to assess your color combinations so you don’t have to worry about configuring contrast ratios to conform to WCAG criteria.
- Keep forms short and easy to understand. Forms tend to be an area where accessibility is a challenge, but keeping them short and simple, and providing clear instructions and visible labels go a long way towards making them more accessible. Always validate your inputs, provide clear instructions for resolving any errors, and include user notifications for success.
- Use meaningful link text so individuals using screen readers can easily understand what will happen when they click on a link. “Sign up for our webinar” is a lot more meaningful and helpful than “click here.”
- Include captions on videos. YouTube has a really cool feature that allows you to automatically add captions to make it super easy for everyone. You may also consider burning in captions in your media editor (Camtasia makes it easy.)
- Adhere to best practices for HTML elements. You will save yourself so much trouble if things that look like lists are list elements, things that look like buttons are button elements, and things that look like select box elements are select box elements. Also, list elements should look like lists, button elements should look like buttons, and select box elements should look like select boxes. Semantic HTML is free and makes a big impact.
- Use thoughtful design and design patterns to make content accessible from the beginning. Content does not have to be “dumbed down” in order to be accessible. Elizabeth Certa
- Put down the mouse! An accessible website should be entirely navigable using only a keyboard. Browse and audit your site’s just using the keyboard for general cruft and your pages will be more accessible, load faster, and have a better foundation overall. Designate one day each week as a keyboard-only day to uncover bugs quicker.
Start integrating these simple tips and recommendations into your regular digital content production workflows and you’ll be producing more accessible digital content in no time. It doesn’t take much and can have a positive impact on individuals. If you need help with assessing your website or application, would like a more in-depth analysis, coding recommendations, or remediation to help take your project to the next level, please contact us today!