The Importance of Accessibility
Adhering to Website Accessibility practices is important for many reasons. In fact, for larger businesses and government institutions its necessary due to the Americans with Disabilities Act legislation that mandates that business and government websites be accessible to those who are visually impaired. Furthermore, there may be more people with visual disabilities visiting your website than you think.
In 2015, studies show, an estimated 7,297,100 total Americans reported being legally blind, and this figure does not account for young adults or other visual disabilities, such as difficulty parsing written text, color blindness, or partial vision loss. Although, 7.3 million people is a relatively small number in comparison to the total population of the United States, it’s a large number of people who wouldn’t procure web benefits if accessibility guidelines weren’t addressed.
What you can do
Be screen reader friendly – Screen readers are the essential way most people with visual disabilities navigate the web. A screen reader is a feature or software that reads text aloud. Below are some ways to make a website compatible with the software.
Use headers correctly – Make sure when creating headers that your header tags are in a sequential order that makes sense for organization. That is – <h1> should always come before an <h2> and then <h3>, <h4> etc. However it is important to note that it’s acceptable to follow a lower level header tag with a higher level.
Use Alt text for images – Images are a great way to enhance the content or illustrate a point on the website, but serve almost no purpose to the visually impaired. Adding a description and ALT text to the image will allow the screen reader to tell the user what the image is about.
Label your links – Using the phrase “click here” is bad practice when adding links to your website. It’s best to be descriptive with this text – rather than “click here” try something like “to learn more about our auto loan rates, visit our rates page”
Use colors carefully – Most websites typically use a set color scheme to reflect branding and set the mood of the web page. This is great, however it is important to be sure that the color of text is easily visible especially when using a colored background. This is helpful for people who have problems with color blindness.