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Improve Your Website’s Web Accessibility With These 4 Tips

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If your website isn’t accessible, you’re excluding people with disabilities from using your site effectively. 

A non-accessible website can ruin the user experience for all users and even hinder your efforts to turn your business website into a vital marketing tool

You can also lose potential customers, or worse, get sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a U.S. law prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities. 

The catch is, that making your website accessible and complying with the ADA and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the international standard for web accessibility, can take a lot of time and resources. 

Start by working with what you have and improving your website’s web accessibility with the four tips below. 

But first…

What is web accessibility, and why is it important?

Web accessibility refers to the design and development of websites, technologies, and tools to ensure people with disabilities can navigate websites effectively. 

This means ensuring that users with disabilities can perceive, understand, browse, interact with, and contribute to the web.  

Web accessibility covers all disabilities that affect a person’s access to the Web, such as cognitive, physical, auditory, neurological, visual, and speech. 

Improving your web accessibility is crucial because of the following:

  • Legal compliance. Websites are generally subject to several accessibility regulations, including the ADA, WCAG, state laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

U.S. courts have cited ADA requirements in web accessibility-related cases, and the Department of Justice has recently ruled that websites do apply here. 

  • Social implications. Persons with disabilities should get equal access and enjoy the benefits of using the web. If your website isn’t accessible, you could be limiting what web users with disabilities can do online. 

That being said, ensure your website is accessible, not only for legal compliance but also for upholding your social responsibility.  

  • Economic opportunities. Inaccessible websites can ruin the user experience and even make it impossible for people with disabilities to use your website. That’s a big customer base you are missing out on. In fact, the total disposable income for U.S. adults with disabilities is about $490 billion.

4 Ways to enhance web accessibility

Achieving and improving web accessibility can be a long road, but there are tips and tricks to help you get started. 

1. Use the right colour contrast

Use the appropriate colour contrast when designing your website to make it accessible. 

For example, users who are colour-blind or have visual impairments might not see and read your content and website elements clearly. 

The key is to use accessible colour contrast and palettes that meet the WCAG threshold. 

Your website’s colour contrast ratio is a numerical value. It describes the difference in light between your background and foreground elements, such as text.  

Follow the WCAG Success Criteria (SC) 1.4.3. standards for colour contrast ratio requirements:

  • Normal text (and images of text) should meet a contrast ratio of (at least) 4.5:1
  • The large text should be 18 point or larger or 14 point or bold and larger with a contrast ratio of (at least) 3:1.  

Check and adjust your website’s contrast with a graphic designer, or use a contrast checker that scans your site’s text and background colours. 

2. Ensure your website is perceivable to all users

A fundamental principle of accessibility is perceivability. 

Users can perceive your website effectively when they can identify your interface elements and content, regardless of the tools they use to browse the web. 

For example, most users navigate websites visually, but those with blindness may use screen readers, which is software that converts text to braille or audio, essentially “reading” the content for the user. 

People with visual impairments might also have limited abilities to perceive certain visual content types on your website. 

One of the best ways to help you address this accessibility issue is to check whether your website can work for all users if you disable images and visual navigation cues. 

Then, assess your website and determine if:

  • Users can still navigate your website easily 
  • People using screen readers can read the image’s alternative text (alt-text) and understand each image’s function and purpose
  • Any of your content relies solely on colour to convey meaning
  • Users can still understand essential information from your web pages with graphs, videos, infographics, and other visual content.   

Add appropriate alt text and take the necessary steps to rely on visual content less.

Doing so can take you a step closer to making your website accessible, improving the user experience for all your website visitors, including those with visual impairments. 

3. Make your website navigable with a keyboard

Most people with motor impairments and other related disabilities can only use a keyboard (or keyboard emulator) to use the web. 

To make your website accessible for people with these disabilities, ensure you design or improve your website to be navigable and usable with only a keyboard.    

Test your website for keyboard-only navigation by using the Tab and Shift+Tab keys to move around your pages and evaluate the following:

  • How the navigation experience changes
  • Whether you can click links, fill out forms, and close popup notifications
  • If the element you focus on is easy to determine 

The quick test can help you gain insights into real-life user behaviours, allowing you to make the appropriate accessibility adjustments in your site’s navigation and other components. 

However, the test isn’t an instant solution to making (or improving) your website to be accessible. 

Your best bet is to establish a regular testing strategy to check for conformance and address uncovered accessibility issues promptly with the help of web developers and accessibility experts.  

4. Include subheadings for better readability

One of the accessibility practices that benefit all users regardless of their abilities is breaking up long-form content with subheadings. 

Using subheadings helps your readers scan your content to look for the information they need fast. 

Also, subheadings can be a powerful strategy to help optimize your website for search engines. These can make your content easier to digest, enhancing reader comprehension and improving retention.    

Consider these tips for using subheadings effectively for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and accessibility. 

  • Create subheadings that help readers understand your content quickly. The subheadings in this article are a good example.
  • Use a proper subheading sequence. For example, don’t use an H3 tag immediately after an H1 tag. 
  • Include relevant keywords in your subheadings to make it easier for readers to find relevant content.    

When used properly, subheadings can make your website more helpful for people with neurocognitive differences, users with screen readers, and those with memory-related conditions.   

Make your website more accessible

Achieving website accessibility is no walk in the park, but you can jumpstart your efforts with the tips in this guide.

Assess your current website for accessibility issues, use reliable tools, and get help from web accessibility experts.