By Erin Vallely, ATI Advocacy Specialist
April 28, 2023
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, our country has come a long way in ensuring our communities are physically accessible to everyone. However, digital accessibility is still not a priority. As of 2021, 98% of the world’s top 1 million websites were still not completely accessible.
The Benefits of Being Accessible
When organizations make their digital content accessible, it means everyone can access the information. The digital world is a crucial tool everyone has the right to equally access. The internet allows people to do research, find jobs, work, make social connections, and access services. Additionally, having accessible sites will increase an organization’s audience and customers. The more people that can access your services, the more business an organization will receive. Web accessibility is a win-win for everyone involved.
Web Accessibility Tips
- Structure and Navigation – Think critically about the structure and layout of your website or social media page. You want to keep the most important information front and center and ensure tabs to additional pages are clearly labeled and in a logical order. You also need to see if your website can be used by people who only use the keyboard or a mouse. Many people who use screen readers navigate using only their keyboard commands.
- Written Content – The quality of the written content on a website can make or break its accessibility. You should be as concise as possible and avoid extra words that do not convey important information. When possible, replace paragraphs with lists and make use of headings to break information up. It’s also best to avoid acronyms and industry jargon to improve readability.
- High/Low Contrast – In web and social media design, contrast refers to how different colors are. For example, dark words on a dark background or light words on a light background will be very hard for people with vision disabilities to read. Additionally, text, photos, and videos should be big enough to stand out and draw the user’s attention to important information. See this blog from PopeTech for more information about fixing contrast accessibility problems.
- Images – All images on a website or social media account should have alt text and image descriptions. Alt text, short for alternative text, gives a very short verbal description of a photo that a screen reader will read in place of skipping over an image. Similarly, image descriptions are typically in the text portion of the site or individual post and give more detail about the image such as who is featured, what is in the background, and what the image is trying to convey.
- Videos – For people who have trouble hearing or are deaf, videos are frequently inaccessible. Any videos you create, or share, need to be captioned and hand edited. While some apps and extensions will generate automatic captions, they are frequently not accurate or readable for people who need them. The best captions are white letters on a black background and are uniformly sized.
Web accessibility is the responsibility of all community members and will become even more important as our population ages and chronic health complications in all age ranges continue to increase. Everyone deserves to have access to the same information and entertainment without barriers.
In addition to implementing the tips above, here are some additional ways you can help improve web accessibility, so all community members have equal access to information and opportunities.
- Put your website through this accessibility checker tool and make the necessary changes if you are not fully compliant https://www.accessibilitychecker.org/#
- Work with your web designer to ensure your website meets accessibility standards outlined by the current law https://www.access-board.gov/ict/
- Create a social media accessibility policy to ensure all your posts can be accessed by everyone using these tips https://blog.hootsuite.com/inclusive-design-social-media/