There are many factors to consider when designing a website, including your target audience, your value proposition, and how to make your concept a concrete reality. It’s also crucial to develop an interface everyone can use, including people with various disabilities. Applying accessibility web design principles will get you started in the right direction. But it’s important to understand that accessibility doesn’t just mean making your website look pretty.
Design standards should extend well beyond attractive color schemes and beautiful fonts. It’s about ensuring your site is intuitive, that people can easily interact with the content, and that it generally supports all your users’ needs. Accessible website design has many benefits for your website visitors and your company. To that end, reaching ADA design guidelines will help keep you legally protected while making your site more accessible to all people who engage with the web.
Apply Universal Design Accessibility
Countless best practices cover traditional web design but often fail to consider your entire potential user base. So while web design standards usually cater to an average user, they may exclude vast population segments, including people with disabilities.
That’s where universal design comes in, which removes obstacles and provides accessibility for all users. Of course, universal design requires building a website with UX accessibility from the start rather than going back and modifying it later. But it’s well worth the effort to accommodate everyone and achieve ADA compliant web design.
Six Tips for Accessible Web Design
Here are some great ways to build accessibility into your new website:
1. First, ensure your site makes sense no matter how it is perceived
People with disabilities can use many different accessibility accommodations to understand your site. Text-to-speech is the most recognized assistive technology available. This beneficial tool reads your website content aloud to users who typically have a visual impairment or related disability. In addition, these users may need help interacting with your site’s images. That’s why including metadata like short descriptions of images, known as “alt attributes,” can make a substantial difference.
A great example of how to do this well is the American Foundation for the Blind’s Facebook page. Developers place image descriptions at the end of each post. You don’t need to include extensive details, but it’s critical to remember that your users might be using accessibility tools.
Use The Code Below To Make Images Accessible
< img src=”picture.jpg”/ >
and turn it into this:
< img src=”picture.jpg” alt=”Photo of a girl building a sand castle on the beach”/ >
There’s also a common misconception that accommodating blind users is the only reason for web accessibility. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are numerous other reasons people require web accessibility accommodations. For example, users could be at risk for seizures when exposed to content that flashes above or below a certain threshold. Moreover, deaf users could also require descriptive text to explain an auditory component of your site.
With all this said, don’t limit your accessibility plan to specific disabilities. Good Universal Design means getting perspective on the various challenges your users might have and making it easier for anyone to use your site.
2. Ensure your site has text that is easy to read
It’s not just about having well-written content, but that’s undoubtedly a good thing to strive for too. This factor is critical because many users will have trouble seeing your text due to a disability, temporary impairment, or even old age. In addition, as the population grows older, elderly Internet users will require help reading and interacting with websites.
One of the easiest ways to make your text readable is by using a simple typeface and a big enough font size. You can also refer to Penn State’s accessibility guide for other recommendations, including one that specifies most body text should be between 12 and 14-point font. This standard will help you adhere to the WCAG 2.0 guideline that all text must be resizable to 200% without creating problems, like moving content off the readable edge of the page.
Another important thing to do is make sure the color contrast on your site is ok for your users. Reading text that easily blends into the background of your page can create big issues for users.
Checking the contrast of your site it pretty simple, and there are a lot of sites that can help you figure out if you’re following best practices. Head on over to my post about contrast checkers to find the one that’s right for you.
3. Make your site easy to navigate
This recommendation isn’t just for accessibility awareness. It’s an excellent general design principle. Have you ever used a website with a confusing design that isn’t intuitive or buries its navigation? It can create frustrating obstacles that annoy all end users. However, it’s an even bigger problem for those who require disability-related adaptations.
Fortunately, the WCAG website offers helpful suggestions to make your website easier to navigate:
- Don’t use a ton of links on each page
- Ensure the links look different from the rest of the text on the page
- Use highlighting on search terms
- Give the user ways to access different sections on a web page easily
4. Ensure your site is adaptable and modifications work correctly
Numerous accessibility modifications covered in this post adapt to all users’ needs, and you need to help them work any way you can. The best way to create accessible content can vary depending on the type of website you make. In any case, it’s essential to be aware of issues that may arise when users implement accessibility technology.
5. Give users enough time to interact with your content
This suggestion directly correlates to Guideline 2.2 of the WCAG 2.0 rules. Give people enough time to read if you have time-sensitive content like a banner that flies in and out or a timer-based popup. Provide a checkbox or similar element that verifies end users have finished reading if you include content like this in your site.
This timer option can apply to different content, like online forms. If your site includes a form for users to fill out, ensure that the timeouts are accommodating. Set timeouts on the server long enough to keep it from resetting the form.
Similarly, if your site includes timed online tests or quizzes, give users ample time to complete them. While you might emphasize the speed of the tests, this could create an unwelcoming environment for people with disabilities.
6. Use landmarks on your site
Landmarks are page regions, such as a header, navigation, body, footer, and sidebar. These elements allow screen reader users and keyboard navigators to jump to different landmarks on each webpage. So if there are 100 links on a page and they only want to get to the footer, they can jump to that landmark directly.
The best approach is following WCAG guidelines as closely as possible. Yet, even though there are recommendations and thoughts on the subject, there isn’t a solid certification process to ensure your site fully complies. This ambiguity makes it hard to know if your site is compliant to prevent inaccessibility and possible legal action.
A lack of clarity concerning compliance can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. As a website owner, you must understand how to make your website accessible. Learn all you can, figure out what your users need, and bring your site up to code. It’s important. If you want to know the core of these suggestions, please check out UserWay’s WCAG 2.0 post that explains the basis for these recommendations.
UserWay: Your Accessibility Web Design Solution
UserWay is the world leader in accessibility web design. With superior AI technology, including a powerful widget that remediates accessibility violations, you can rest assured your site is compliant and accommodating to people with various disabilities. After all, everyone should have equal access to the Internet.
Common FAQs About Accessibility Web Design
What is Accessibility in Web Design?
Web accessibility relates to assistive technologies that enable people with various disabilities to use the web properly. It helps all end users comprehend, use, and engage with the digital world. For example, there are specific tools that help you design for color blindness or those who are hearing impaired.
Does Accessible Website Design Hurt the Overall User Experience?
The answer is a resounding no. Accessible website design provides more open space on each page, making content easier to read and navigating UX simpler.
Is Accessible Web Design the Only Important Thing to Address?
No. Web design for accessibility is only one component to consider. Web developers often use a third-party provider to integrate assistive technology features that make websites accessible to people with various disabilities.
What Can Happen if You Don’t Invest in Fixing Accessibility Violations?
If you don’t follow ADA standards for accessible design, you risk facing costly lawsuits and protracted legal battles. And even smaller businesses are vulnerable to these punitive actions, so following ADA standards as a guide to web design is undeniably in your best interest.