Accessibility is a key component of universal design and can be achieved with relatively simple changes to how your website is designed, like using accessiBe WordPress. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines accessibility as “the practice of making websites usable by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities such as blindness or low vision, those who may not have English as their first language, those with motor skill impairments, and those who use assistive technologies like screen readers.”
Accessible websites meet the needs of these different groups through careful consideration in four areas: content and functionality; structure and navigation; presentation; and interaction. Following these guidelines will help you optimize your website for increased accessibility. These guidelines are based on W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.
Content and functionality
At a minimum, your website must be usable without requiring users to use a mouse or other pointing device. This means that all text must be available as either image of text, rendered as real text by the web browser, or via an alt attribute and text description in a video file. If you use real text, it must be coded with either the HTML <strong> or <em> tags, so that screen readers know how to render the content when reading aloud.
Structure and navigation
Clicking on buttons, links, and menus must result in immediate action without requiring users to tab through the entire page before the desired action is taken. Links must be descriptive, and a logical label can be provided in an aria-label attribute. Users should also be able to navigate from section to section of your website, including jumping from one main area or page to another without sifting through inner pages.
Your website should use high contrast colors so users can read the text without difficulty. This should be done while being careful not to rely on color alone to indicate the function of something, like a button.
All functionality available with a mouse must also be available via keyboard alone. Forms should allow for tabbing through all required fields before submission, and any error messages should be made clear and concise so users can easily understand the issue.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public accommodations must allow service animals. This includes any website available to the public, such as business websites and other private entities. If your site provides services like order forms or online support, these should be accessible through assistive technologies for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Website Accessibility Tools
You can test your website with a variety of online accessibility tools. For example, the WebAim WAVE tool is a very comprehensive tool that tests the structure and content of your site and allows you to choose from a list of disabilities when testing for accessibility issues. Another useful tool is the SEO Chat Website Accessibility Checker. This tool checks the code of your site and provides tips for fixing any errors it finds.
As you can see, making your website accessible is important because it directly benefits everyone who visits your site. In addition, making simple alterations to how your website is designed and coded will make it more usable and increase its rank in search engine results.