Compliance to Creativity: Website Accessibility
Website accessibility has become a priority subject for many businesses as of recent. More than 56 million people in the United States live with a disability. Visual, hearing, cognitive disabilities will impact how an individual will interact with a website.
Rather than what was a digital marketing strategy is now for some industry sectors an absolute legal requirement. It makes common sense, everyone should have an equal opportunity to experience websites.
However, it does not only impact those with physical disabilities, but perhaps busy individuals. As an example watching an online video muted may require close captioning. Another example might include users who have limited bandwidth, slow internet connection speeds will rely on other methods to understand website content. As a business it is common sense that you want to reach out to your audience and not cause any unexpected hurdles.
So what kind of industries are being affected?
Primarily household names in retail, finance and hospitality have been increasingly notified by law firms of poor website accessibility. Recently this year the United States Access Board announced updates to national accessibility requirements. Federal agencies and any business that receive funds from a federal agency, beneath Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, would have to become digitally accessible by January 2018. This of course creates a huge concern for many federally funded school websites, yet such an announcement may also fast forward other companies to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 in order to meet their non-discrimination obligations.
What is (WCAG) 2.0?
Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WCAG 2.0 has been adopted as the internet standard by countries around the world, including European Union Member States, the United States, Australia, and more. Followed by developers and content authors, these compliance guidelines provide equal access to all areas of a website. They summarize nicely how all web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
What can you do?
Ideally it is easier to have accessibility in mind from the beginning of a new website design strategy. Unfortunately, web redesign is not an option for every business as cost can be an outlining factor, yet all is not lost as there are solutions that can help. Automated website scanning services developed to identify accessibility issues using WCAG 2.0 standards such Audioeye and Siteimprove are a good start. Siteimprove Accessibility Checker will highlight errors on a single web page, providing clear explanations of how they affect website visitors and recommendations on how to fix them.
Having now gained awareness of what accessibility compliance means, the first step will be discussing what direction is next with your team. Time4design are happy to announce that with our support, we will guide you through such challenging times and compliance regulations. Assuring your website is accessible can start with a few short steps. Introducing improvements, each of the following areas address issues that are especially common within the code of your website.
Design color for visual impairness
In web design, color plays obviously, a huge part. Some had criticized compliance would make it difficult to make a website creative, but that is not altogether true. Creativity can be defined by simplicity and using colors that work together. Such colors that do not work for example would be red and green. Associated with colorblindness, they are the most common with causing visual problems. Screenshots can be tested with services such as Coblis as a method to detect what might need refinement. If you are curious to the level of colorblindness, you can try out Ishihara Color Blindness Test.
Common color vision deficiency combinations:
- Green & Red
- Green & Brown
- Blue & Purple
- Green & Blue
- Light Green & Yellow
- Blue & Grey
- Green & Grey
- Green & Black
Alt tags on Images
Alt tags provide necessary content within images, for impaired alt tags will assist with screen readers. Each image should have a relatively detailed description of the image concerned.
Typically reinforced within an organic SEO strategy, H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 help provide navigation prompts for accessibility tools such as skipping between sections with keyboard shortcuts.
Subtitles and close captioning
Those with hearing impairments will struggle with videos, incorporating subtitles and transcripts can greatly help (not mention if video has been muted by default). You Tube CC is automatic, allowing a user to correct the transcript where necessary. Other services such as Vimeo will need a transcription service.