Help to End the Digital Divide May 17, 2017

Two people writing on a piece of a paper and sitting next to laptops.

If you’ve read any of our posts, you are probably pretty aware of how passionate the UserWay team is about accessibility. Everyone should have equal access to online content, and if they need modifications, those features should be readily available. If you don’t know why digital accessibility is so important, that’s ok - it’s a great time to learn right now. Read on to learn about just a few of the obstacles people encounter online every day. Let’s work together to close the gap and make the internet accessible to everyone! Note: check out WCAG 2.0’s guidelines to learn some concrete ways to effectively address the issues in this post.

We need to create text that you can actually read.

A lot of what is presented to people online is text-based content. Websites are filled with text from navigation menus to general content and important navigation buttons. However, many websites don’t think about how simple this text actually is to read. Instead, they focus on the overall aesthetic, and forget the basics. First, color contrast is critical. You need to make sure your color contrast is conducive to readers who visit your site. If the text is too dark or too light and does not show up clearly on the background of your site, then people will have trouble reading it. Luckily, there are some great contrast checkers to help you make sure the text you present is readable.

Another common issue is the text itself. Sure, fancy fonts can be fun, but how easy are they to read? Fonts that are hard to easily read can be alienating. Any visitor no matter how great their eyesight is will be dissuaded from checking out your site if the font is too tough to read. Similarly, if the text is too tiny, users will have trouble. Making sure the font you use is simple to read on a computer screen and on a smaller screen like a phone is critical. You need to support your website visitors no matter how they access your content.

We need to develop content that supports assistive technology.

Assistive tech can take many forms. You never know if your users have vision problems and require text-to-speech functions or have mobility loss and use keyboard navigation instead of a mouse or trackpad. In any case, assistive technology needs to be considered when you are developing your website. Making a site that accommodates these technologies requires some research and a bit of user testing to really get right. Once again, the WCAG 2.0 guidelines will be your rule book for how to create a site that makes it simpler for visitors to utilize their assistive technology on your website.

We need to create an inclusive online environment.

Teaching the digital community that accessibility is critical isn’t easy. Some online designers and content creators assume that regulations like WCAG 2.0 will take away from their creative vision. If we teach people the fundamentals of accessible design early, they may not continue to see it as such a big hurdle.

Making the world an inclusive place is important. We are all responsible for working together and ensuring that access is simple for everyone. Do your part and help to level the digital playing field by making your website accessible. If you are not sure where to start, you might consider installing UserWay’s widget. This simple tool will give your users access to a whole host of digital features that can help them out. The widget handles a lot of the issues we talked about above, and it can make your website more accessible in just a few minutes. We know we created it, but we encourage you to try it out on your site. It’s totally free, doesn’t impact your site’s code, and is a step closer to the type of inclusive website we should all be trying to develop.

Have you seen any good examples of online accessibility? Is there anything that you recommend other site owners should check out? Share your digital accessibility thoughts in the comments below!

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