Combine Accessibility Features for Even More Impact Mar 29, 2017

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The Internet Isn’t Inherently Built for Accessibility

When someone requires accessibility enhancements on the web, they often need more than just one accommodation. There might be several issues at play that require more than a quick one modification fix to help these people use the internet with ease. Here at UserWay, we have been asked before why it would be necessary to have the UserWay widget installed when website visitors could just zoom in to see the text.

There are a few issues with this logic. First, zooming in frequently distorts the text so it does not fit on the screen all at once. If you go onto your smartphone and zoom in, you will see just how difficult it is to read the text once it is zoomed in. While this is a problem that directly conflicts with the goal of making a website easier to use, it still does not address the bigger overarching issue. The real problem is that zooming in (however flawed it may be) only addresses one tiny corner of the accessibility issues that someone can have when visiting a website. 

Multiple Features for a Broad Audience

That’s why UserWay has a menu of accessibility features that can be used in combination with each other to help people use websites the way that works for them (the strategy is even reflected in our name!). The menu is intended to be a one-stop shop for users that need a way to make the internet work for them instead of the other way around. Users do not have to choose just one feature to use, instead they have a whole host of feature options and combinations to play around with to make a web page more accessible.

One pretty tough issue for anyone with a disability is trying to determine exactly what help they need. I know, as a person with a significant visual impairment, there are a lot of times I’m not sure what will work best. I have to play around with computer screen lighting, font size, and contrast to try and find a combination that works. There often isn’t one simple fix, I need to modify a few different factors to get the best result. This is a common strategy, and that’s another reason UserWay’s menu can be such a big help. It presents users with options and within several of those options there are even more refined options.

Useful Accommodation Combinations

While the combination of features that a user finds most helpful will depend on their particular needs, there are some that are helpful for everyone even if they do not have a disability. Some feature combinations to try out are:

Legible font + Desaturation = Easier to read

Are you a student who has a ton of online reading? Or maybe you work for a company that requires you to do online research. Constantly wading through colorful text or fancy fonts can throw you off your game. If you are trying to focus on a topic, it can be really helpful to have a consistent screen color and font face so that you can pay attention to the content. Bonus: add a size or two increase to the font using the larger font option to make the text even easier to read.

Big Cursor + Highlighted Links = Less Screen Searching

Have you ever been working away on the computer when you go to click on something only to find you have lost your cursor? You know that little arrow is hidden somewhere on the screen, but it’s hidden among the tabs, ads, and texts presented in front of you. Most of us have run up against this issue, and that’s why enlarging the cursor is so helpful, it’ll point you just where you need to go.

Selecting highlighted links on a web page means you will spend less time searching for linked text and trying desperately to click on text that seems like it should be part of the link but isn’t. Some sites link a phrase that doesn’t seem relevant to the content you are looking for, and the text you think should be linked isn’t for some reason. That’s why having a link highlighter can take all of the guesswork out of finding linked content. Once you click on that option, it will become easy to distinguish what text is linked.

Combining those two options will make things a lot easier if you are searching for links on a text-heavy page. The bigger cursor will help you to hover above the links and select the correct text more easily, while the highlighted links will help you find the right places to click.

Contrast + Bigger Text

Even before I started to have vision problems, my eyes would get tired staring at small, black text on a bright, white background. While this is the standard color combination for a lot of websites, it does not have to be for every user. Some users need different color combinations in order to see the text more clearly. Even if that’s not the case for you, sometimes swapping the contrast so it is light text on a dark background can still give your eyes a bit of a break or a change of pace. Adding that color contrast refresh to some enlarged text can make webpages easier for some users to interact with, and make the text more readable.

Try It Out

If you own a website or are just an everyday internet user who might benefit from these features, you can try them out. Just go to our site and click on the circle icon in the top right of your screen. You’ll see the accessibility menu pop up where you can try out different combinations of features and see what modifications make the internet easier for you to use. We all spend a lot of time on the web, so we might as well make it easier on ourselves!

What feature combinations did you find useful? Were there any settings that you felt like you could use every day? Share your favorite features in the comments below!

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