In our increasingly digital age where web visitors can do everything from order pizza to find directions, it is now more important than ever that your website is fully accessible. With the internet becoming increasingly our first port of call (even more so during the recent COVID lockdown restrictions), ensuring your site can be accessed by the widest possible demographic is vital.
It is estimated that only 10% of sites are currently fully accessible for those who rely on assistive technology to browse the internet. Meanwhile, approximately 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. It is also worth considering that with people now living longer than ever, the figure is likely to increase – so it is important you cater for users with hearing, sight, or motor function impairment.
How You Can Improve The Accessibility Of Your Site
Website accessibility means making it as easy as possible for all potential visitors to your site to gain access, navigate their way around, and understand your site and content. Here are a few ideas you can use to help ensure you cater to the largest number of users possible (with or without disabilities).
1. Use Headers And Titles In The Layout Of Your Pages:
Headers help users get an immediate impression of what a particular page is about – plus subheads will add further structure to your pages, breaking up content into logical sections. The <H> tag used in HTML also lets search engines gain a greater understanding of your content and will improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – in turn, giving you a higher ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
2. Always Use Descriptive Words In-Text Links:
Adding descriptive text to your links lets those users with screen readers understand what that title links to. It is also very good from an SEO point of view – particularly if you are linking to internal content contained on your site.
3. Your Choice Of Content Management System (CMS) And Plug-ins:
Only use a Content Management System (CMS) and associated plug-ins that fully support accessibility. You should also check your theme offers adequate support for those users with disabilities
4. Add Alt Tags And Descriptions To Images:
If a user is blind or has impaired sight, they will rely heavily on their screen reader to explain the content or images on your pages. Always add a descriptive <alt> tag to your images to help users with sight problems. Using these tags will also have a positive effect on your SEO.
5. If You Feature Video, Presentations, Or Live Events On Your Site, Be Sure To Add Captions:
Adding captions to self-hosted video for those with hearing problems is relatively easy – particularly if you work with a real time speech to text service provider. Note this is possible with live or pre-recorded events. You should also add a descriptive text equivalent for sight-impaired users (for example, a full transcript).
6. Use Css For Layouts, Not Tables:
Not so long ago, websites used structured underlying tables for the placement of everything from text to images. However, tables can be confusing for users of screen readers as the software may not comprehend the correct order of content. CSS and HTML5 are now far more common in website production anyway – but, nonetheless, you should avoid using tables wherever possible.
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