The Best Ways to Start Making Your Website Accessible in Just Minutes Nov 22, 2016
If you’re looking for some quick tips to start making your website compliant, then you’ve come to the right place! There are so many ways that you can make sure your website is accessible to everyone, and it can be tough to know where to start. Brushing up on your understanding of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines can also make things easier. Don’t know what those are? Check out our helpful (if we do say so ourselves) explanation about the rules are in our post, What Exactly is WCAG 2.0 and What Does it Mean for Your Website? Here’s a quick exercise to start figuring out what pieces of your website fail the compliance test.
1. Check Your Text
Open up the homepage to your website and evaluate it purely on its visual elements. How easy is the text to read? Is there any text that is almost the same color as the background? While things might seem ok to you, try and look at them from a new perspective. If you need some help with this, there are apps that you can install to see what users with different degrees of vision loss see . If you don’t want to install an app (this is a quick guide after all) the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired created an excellent image gallery you can use to get a quick sense of what vision loss looks like. Look at the pictures and imaging seeing your site in the same way.
5-minute fix: Open a contrast checker to see how you’re doing. These handy tools will let you know if your text is readable or needs to be updated. Here’s our list of the best contrast checkers on the web including the UserWay contrast checker.
2. Use Text-to-Speech
One great way to learn what your users are dealing with is to use the text-to-speech function on your computer. Have the text on your website read to you and you’ll find out which parts don’t make sense, and which parts you’ve failed to write text for at all. If there’s an image, is there descriptive text for the computer to read? This is the simplest way to know what gaps you have in accessibility content.
5-minute fix: Have your homepage text read back to you and take notes on what’s missing or confusing. If you learn what’s missing on the main page, it’s probably going to be missing on your other pages too. Get an idea of what text you need to start including from now on.
3. Zoom In
When you enlarge your homepage, is it tough to understand? If you zoom in to 200% the text should still be readable on the page. Users with visual impairments often need to enlarge your content to view it properly, and if they zoom in everything should still appear as it would at a standard resolution, just larger.
5-minute fix: Zoom in and adjust your content so there isn’t any overset text. If things are confusing when you zoom in, take notes and begin thinking of a plan to change the way your website is structured.
4. Install an Accessibility Widget
This is probably the easiest way to learn what you could do better. These handy little tools will identify pieces of your site that might not comply with WCAG 2.0, and will make the modifications that are necessary without forcing you to change your code.
5-minute fix: Get the plugin and start playing around. You’ll see what updates the widget makes, and start to understand what you might need to fix on your site. Oh hey, we just happen to make one of these widgets. Get the free UserWay widget here.
There you have it! In just 20 minutes you’ve learned what problems your users have when going to your website. Hopefully, you’ll be a bit more inspired to help make the changes they need to use your site without any problems. Remember, accessibility is one of the best ways to ensure you have an effective and inclusive digital presence. Start updating your site now!
Did you learn anything from this exercise? Were you surprised at how hard it was to understand your site when the computer read it to you? Share your findings in the comments!