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What barriers does your website have that makes using it more difficult (or impossible) for a certain segment of your visitors? You might be thinking that you have put in a lot of work and effort to ensure that you have a quality site and that you have continued to add excellent content to it.
While all of that might be true, it does not mean that your site is truly accessible. In fact, there are many sites that are simply not built to be used effectively by people who have disabilities. You can’t let this happen. You need to work to make sure that there are no barriers that could prevent those with disabilities from using the site if you want to make it truly accessible.
Is Your Site Accessible?
If you aren’t sure whether your site is able to be used by those who have disabilities, there are various tools that will be able to help you get a better understanding of your site. Let’s take a look at a short list of those tools that you might want to consider using.
- DYNO Mapper – This tool is a sitemap generator. It is a subscription program that will check the web accessibility of websites, and it can even track keywords. They display the results in visual sitemaps, which help to make them easier to read and understand.
- AATT (Automated Accessibility Testing Tool) – Offered through PayPal, this is a tool that provides custom web applications in addition to an accessibility API. It can check web pages or groups of web pages.
- Accessibility Checker – From CKSource, this program lets users check their accessibility level of content that has been created in the CKEditor.
- The Accessibility Checklist – This checklist is from Elsevier, and it provides the latest guidelines for providing accessibility. It provides a simplified language framework and a simple to use interface.
- AChecker – This tool comes from the Inclusive Design Research Centre. It is interactive, international, and customizable. It is a simple to use tool, which makes it a popular choice.
These tools cover the major guidelines for accessibility, including WCAD 2.0 – WC3 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In addition to the tools that have been mentioned above, you will also want to keep in mind the following basic and simple suggestions to improve the accessibility of your site.
Accessibility Suggestions to Keep in Mind
It is always a good idea to choose a quality content management system (CMS) that supports accessibility from the start. There are many options for these systems, with WordPress being one of the most prominent. It is also important to consider the colors that you are using.
There are many people who suffer from color blindness, so you want to make sure the site is not dependent on colors. For example, if you have links on the site, be sure that you keep the underlining. Otherwise, for somebody who is color blind, they may never see the variation in color in the text. The only way for them to distinguish a link is if it is underlined.
Consider those who have poor eyesight, as well. You will want to make sure that the text on the site is large enough to see and be easily read. It needs to be easy to read whether it is being viewed on a laptop, a desktop, or a phone, for example. Using contrasting colors can help immensely in making sure that everyone, even those who have poor eyesight, will be able to use the site.
A common area that most sites miss is accessibility by the blind. Those who are blind utilize screen readers, which are programs that will read out loud everything that appears on the screen. It is important to make it as easy as possible for the blind person to get everything they need from the site.
Screen readers are unable to “read” images, but you can use ALT text on all of your images to indicate what is in those images. This will allow the screen reader to give the blind person an indication of what is in the image.
While images are important, you should also make sure that your site is not over-dependent on them. Do not utilize images as your navigational links, for example. This will make it far more difficult for a blind person to navigate your site. You want to make sure the navigation is always as easy as possible, so be sure to divide your content into sections that have appropriate headers.
Keep Trying to Find Ways to Improve Your Site
These are just some of the things that you will need to consider when you are trying to make your site fully accessible by all who are using it. When you and your team are developing a site, you will want to consider various types of disabilities and strive to make sure that your website will be navigable and fully usable by everyone. Continue to look for more ways that you can make improvements to your website when it comes to accessibility and inclusivity for your site and stay aware of the various tools that are available to help you along the way.