Accessibility (a11y): how to check it and provide it on your website?
It’s not a secret that website success is directly related to site visitors. The more people use your web resource, the higher traffic, CTR, conversion rate, etc. they cause. In order to make it possible for your website to be used by more people, make it convenient for everyone. Remember that your users are all different and have different needs. Today we’ll focus on users with physical disabilities, who account for a considerable part of Internet users and should not be ignored. Regardless of what platform your site is built (or you plan to build on), there are many ways to increase website accessibility.
Find out how to check your website for accessibility and how to make it accessible for a broader audience, but at first get familiarized with some basic notions.
What is website accessibility (a11y)?
You often see the word “accessibility” written in a shortened form, especially across social media with a hashtag.
A11y = letter “a" is followed by 11 letters, followed by "y" = accessibility.
What is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?
Abbreviation WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This is a standard created in cooperation with organisations from all over the world to satisfy the needs of people with disabilities all around the globe. That’s why these shared guidelines should be met by the international community. Implementing them is up to people involved in the process of web content production.
For now WCAG 2.0 is the latest version, which contains 12 guidelines in accordance with four main principles:
All adjectives refer to content, information and UI components.
How to make your website more accessible?
Web content can be presented in different forms: text, image, audio, video. All content types should be accessible as much as possible to all people, including Internet users with visual, auditory and motor disabilities.
If you have pictures or photos on your website, which serve more than a decorative function and cover important information, then you should write ALT attribute for them that briefly conveys the essence and main aim of those pictures. Screen readers will voice your ALT text to visually impaired people. By the way, having ALT attribute improves your SEO, as it is taken into consideration by search engines when showing results of image search.
If you site contains prerecorded video or audio-only media, make this content accessible for deaf people too. Create captions, audio descriptions, subtitles or even sign language interpretation if your video/audio contains human speech.
Provide your users with ways to define on what part of site they are and navigate to the content they need. Make all your website functionality operable from a keyboard to ease life for those who find it hard to use a mouse and touchpad. Make sure users can skip to all menus and content with keystrokes and mouse clicks equally well. This extra option also helps out non-disabled users whose mouse is temporarily broken or ran out of batteries. So you’ll enhance user experience for everyone.
Besides these main aspects, there are much more ways to reach web accessibility. On w3.org you can find very useful list of techniques to meet WCAG 2.0.
How to check your website for accessibility?
If you want to check your website for accessibility and know how much web content accessibility guidelines meets your existing website, use special tools. For example, an accessibility visualization toolkit called tota11y marks areas of your site with poor contrast ratio or other issues, and gives detailed information about errors in pop-up windows.
On w3.org there is a comprehensive list of tools to evaluate your website accessibility. They will help you find out which criterion your web resource doesn’t meet, so you know what to improve to make it more accessible.
You can also contact our specialists who will define what improvements your web resource requires to become more accessible and implement all needed improvements.