A lot of thought goes into the creation of websites, but sometimes accessibility is left out. Designing accessible websites will make it easier for those with disabilities to use the Internet. As the following facts show, it takes more than just knowledge of PHP, XHTML, CSS and HTML.
Study Internet Application Systems
Timesheets, forms, calendars, recruiting tools and application forms have to be accessible. Make sure that your EEO (equal employment opportunity) is prominently shown. It should be no more than 3 clicks from the main page.
Use Visual Material Aids
Use alternative texts for graphic images. Even if the images are not loaded, users will know its contents. To test, just move your cursor over the image. A brief text description should appear. There are programs available that can do this for you.
Video and Audio Captions
Put captions for all videos, audio and animation. Captions can be closed, open or audio. These captions will help those whose ability to see and/or hear is limited. Narration and audio descriptions help. Open and closed captions assist people with no hearing.
Captions should use a minimum font size of 16 points. The colour should contrast strongly with the background. It also helps to state if the narrator is female or male. You can reduce the need for audio captions by creating a detailed audio script.
Consistency is Paramount
If you are designing accessible websites, this is a necessity. Even people without disabilities benefit from a well made site. Design headers and footers consistently and use CSS. Place your style sheets in a single directory. Website designs should not be changed too often, because impaired people may have trouble recognizing them. The contents have to be updated of course. A skip navigation feature will help.
Don’t Rely Solely on Colours
Make your web pages friendly to the colorblind by using a lot of contrast. People with colour vision deficiency (CVD) have a hard time seeing reds, blues, greens and yellows. Build up contrast especially for important areas. There are tools that will show what a page looks like to people with CVD. Proper use of colour goes in hand in hand with good web design.
Implement Keyboard Navigation
You can make your website friendly to people with cognitive, motor and vision problems via programmed keyboard navigation. Assistive technologies help people move through a website quickly. Adding this feature into a website reduces dependence on a mouse and similar devices. There are many ways this can be done. One of the simplest is using the tab key to move around a website.
Include Documents that are Accessible
Doc and PDF documents have some accessibility features built in and you should use them. Adobe’s PDF program has a Read Out Loud feature. If you are using PowerPoint, the content must be eligible as an outline.
Make Regular Site Assessments
Make sure your website can be viewed properly in all browsers. Some browsers have plug-ins or extensions that enhance a website’s accessibility. Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera all have built-in accessibility tools. Your website should be examined thoroughly so any problems can be fixed quickly.
The responsibility for designing accessible websites is in the hands of the content manager, webmaster and web page designer. Before any page is published, the webmaster must review the pages and make sure they are friendly to everyone.
Author: Charlie is a free lancer writer and content builder of www.lifeguides.net/ and has written many useful genuine articles.