Digital accessibility is not a single team’s responsibility. It’s not just up to the developers, or human resources, or the accessibility department (if your company has one.) That said, while it’s everyone’s job to aim to provide inclusive digital content, digital and marketing teams are (generally) in the unique position of being close to the content and having the ability to modify it. Of course, not everyone is a digital accessibility expert, but there are many simple best practices you can follow that will improve the user experience for everyone who comes to your site, irrespective of ability.
What is an “accessible” website?
Simply put, it’s a website that can be easily used by people with various types of disabilities. While no site can be “100% accessible” (much in the same as it can never be 100% bug-free), there are changes you can make to accommodate all different types of users.
Accommodating visually impaired individuals
Blind or visually impaired users rely on screen readers to navigate websites, but unless a website is coded correctly, this assistive technology does not always provide a “comparable” experience to that of someone not using a screen reader. Here are some best practices to help ensure that your website does provide a comparable experience:
- Use alternative text for images – Screen readers will not “interpret” an image for a user, they will only read aloud the code on the website
- Label form fields properly – This will make it easier for all users to fill out forms, not just those utilizing assistive technology
- Employ proper headings – Make use of your H1, H2, H3, etc., tags! This makes it immeasurably easier for someone using a screen reader to quickly find the content they need; it also makes it easier for non-visually impaired users to skim a page
- Make sure your site is keyboard-only accessible – Many people with disabilities – including those with vision problems – are unable to use a mouse to navigate
- Include audio descriptions for videos – Audio descriptions describe actions and scenes in which no one is talking will deliver a more well-rounded experience for those who cannot see the screen
Best practices to accommodate other disabilities
Disabilities are as varied as the people who have them. It is unwise to assume that if you accommodate blind or visually impaired people, your site is accessible to everyone. Here are some tips to help provide an inclusive website experience for everyone:
- Use a Color Contrast Testing Tool to ensure users with low vision and who are color blind can easily see the content
- Always add captions for audio content
- Include the ability for a user to slow down or turn off “time outs”
- Avoid flashing content that could trigger epileptic seizures
- Do not rely on color alone as the sole method of conveying information
While these best practices are not an all-encompassing website accessibility checklist by any means, following them will improve the accessibility of your site and lower your risk for a lawsuit. For more specific ideas on what to remediate on your website, get a free website accessibility scan from TPG or contact us today.
For more information, read all our ADA30 posts.