As Microsoft pertinently states “there are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone”. Considering the fact that 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability, it’s important that we put accessibility at the core of what we do.
Not only can improved accessibility help people with disabilities related to vision, hearing, neurodiversity, learning, mobility and mental health, but it also reflects all users who will have different needs at different times and under different circumstances.
Quite simply, accessibility is about making sure your service can be used by as many people as possible. This means nobody is excluded from your service – and that can only be a good thing for your potential audience size!
Starting sooner rather than later to think about the accessibility of your service is key as it is easier (and typically less costly) to fix any parts of your service that aren’t accessible before you’re too far in.
If you’re fortunate enough to never have had to think about how you access a business online, you may not be aware of the problems that can be caused – but also the tools and tips to help avoid them.
For example, AbilityNet highlights that although eye catching design and content might be engaging for some – it can often be inaccessible to many readers due to “over design, overuse of colours and typefaces”. However, there are many ways you can prevent you website being a minefield for those with accessibility issues.
What can your business do to improve its website accessibility?
The text you choose to use can have an impact on readability. There are two main types of ‘typeface’ which are Serif and Sans Serif. Typically, Sans Serif fonts are easier to distinguish for those with reading difficulties or visual impairments.
Avoid using too many different fonts and typefaces on a page as it can be hard to distinguish between them, whilst also making the page look messy or confusing.
There are lots of factors that play into the legibility of a page on your website. Ensure you have sufficient contrast so that the text stands out enough against the background. Some colour contrasts are particularly beneficial to those with learning difficulties or dyslexia.
It is also important that the font size on your websites can be increased in line with the other content you have on your site. For example, avoid text overflow by ensuring your text boxes increase in size with the text.
Alongside this, it’s important that any formatting on your text such as capitals, bold and italics are kept to a minimum as they can also be hard to understand or recognise for some users.
A proper heading structure on your website (such as h1 and h2) will allow screen reader users to easily navigate around the page.
Additionally, clear and easy to follow keyboard focus will allow keyboard-only users to move around the webpage easily.
Using imagery can be a great way to support what’s being in said in text. This is particularly useful to help readers with dyslexia or learning difficulties follow the content of the text.
It’s important that the images on your website are also tagged with ‘alternative tags’ which screen readers will use to describe the content of the image to those with visual impairments.
If your business uses videos you should caption the important sounds like spoken word, music, laughter and noises. They should be synchronised with the visual content to contextualise them.
This could support visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as people with cognitive and learning disabilities who need to see and hear the content to understand it.
This is also beneficial for use in loud or quiet environments where the visitor may not be comfortable playing the content out loud.
This supports users with physical disabilities who cannot use the keyboard or mouse, people with chronic conditions such as repetitive stress injuries and those who need to their use voice rather than type. Voice recognition can be used to dictate text into a form field, as well as navigation around links and button.
These are just a few of the simple ways that you can help to make your website accessible to all users who are interested in your products or service. Not only will you benefit from a wider audience reach but you will also ensure your brand is inclusive and welcoming to all.
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