It’s no secret that in order for businesses to be competitive in today’s heavily reliant digital landscape, a website is an absolute must. And it’s not a matter of quickly slapping together a sub-par website and letting it go live; users want and demand more.
The site needs to be professional looking, load in a quick and issue-free manner, be easy to navigate, and provide content that visitors are interested in. But as you work to create that perfect website, it’s important to also consider how you plan on making it compliant for disabled users.
According to CDC statistics, one in four adults living in the US has a disability that impacts their life activities in a major way. Without these changes to your website, you will essentially be closing off the site to hundreds, if not thousands of potential visitors and customers.
As for what changes will be necessary in order to ensure the website is compliant for disabled users, we’ve gone ahead and highlighted 10 that you will want to adopt.
Familiarize Yourself with the ADA
If you’re searching for a place to get started, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the act itself doesn’t specifically mention websites, the U.S. courts have used Title III to apply best practices.
It’s important to also point out the difference between accessible and compliant. Accessible refers to the actual development, tools, and the technical side of the website whereas compliant refers to the laws that exist that you are working to be in compliance with. What this means is that in order to create a website that is compliant for disabled users, you will need to make it accessible.
Make Keyboard Navigation Possible
Here’s a measure that will help anyone that needs to navigate the website by the keyboard, as not everyone is able to use a mouse. Enabling keyboard navigation is a really simple step yet is often overlooked. Think about how a person can navigate the site’s menus if they can’t use a mouse.
What commands can be used instead? These include such things as the “Tab” key, which can be used to move from page to page, the “Enter” key can open up a dropdown menu, and then the “Esc” key can be used to close that same menu.
Do Not Put Time Limits on Pages or Commands
The next change you can make is to eliminate pages or functions that have a time limit on them. These are often found on a checkout page of a website, whereby the user must enter all their information in a set amount of time or the entire session is timed out. This can create a lot of stress on people, and turn them away from visiting your site.
The same can be said about forms that they may need to fill out. Take away the automatic time-out feature, give them the luxury of time, and don’t be holding a clock over their head. The fact is that websites aren’t always quick and easy for people to navigate, especially if they are using keyboard-only navigation.
Make Use of Alt Text on Images
There’s a very high probability that your website includes images, which are not ideal for anyone who is blind. So, what’s the solution? You can use what’s called Alt Text for your images. This is a way for you to write out a description of the image, which can then be read with a screen reader. The visitor will still get to “experience” the image that way.
Enable Closed-Captioning on All Videos
Any time you post a video to the website, you should also enable closed captions. You can take it one step further and offer sign language interpretation, making it accessible to many more users.
Audio Only Content Shouldn’t Be Used
If you had planned on posting audio-only content, it’s time to think again. While there is nothing wrong with posting audio content, you want to be sure you also include a written transcript for those who may be hearing impaired. This allows them to read the content rather than listen to it.
Allow for Text to Be Resized
Then there is the issue of the text size. Make sure you give visitors the opportunity to resize and size up, so it makes it easier for them to read the content. Ideally, you want to give them the ability to resize up to 200%. This needs to be done without altering the integrity of the content – meaning it shouldn’t look blurry at that larger size.
Do Not Include Flashing Images
Flashing images are also a thing to avoid. If you stick to the rule that a page should not flash more than three times each second, you should be safe. Flashing can actually prompt a very severe physical reaction in people that suffer from epilepsy and some other medical conditions.
Don’t Rely on Color
Color is another thing you will want to be mindful of, as you don’t want to rely on color as the sole way to get information across. Keep in mind some visitors may be color blind, or blind, so this doesn’t help with navigation.
And speaking of color, make sure to also provide color contrast on the screen between the background of the page and the text itself. This will ensure the text is easy to read.
Make Sure the Site is Predictable
Finally, you want to make sure the site performs in a way that is predictable and feels familiar to all users. This makes navigation much easier and creates a more positive visitor/customer experience.
Once you have made the above changes, test everything to make sure it works as intended. It’s better to fix bugs before the site goes ‘live’, or you risk offering a negative experience to users.
At the end of the day, there are a number of steps that you can and should take to ensure that your website is fully compliant for disabled users.