It is very sad to learn that billions of people with disabilities are excluded from some websites or have a difficult online experience. Those with sight impairments, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and hearing loss are all part of the disabled community who are affected.
How can we help?
It is much easier than you think. The key to helping is by understanding what problems face this community and then remove those obstacles. Apart from making sure your moral compass is working, from a business point of view, making a website more accessible for those with disabilities means reaching a huge number of potential customers. Accessible Web design can make a world of difference. Is your website user friendly for all?
Here are 10 tips to making a user friendly site.
- As we mentioned in a previous blog, colour is very important in web design for many reasons (smemedia.co.uk/website-colour/) especially those who have difficulty distinguishing different colours. Smart colour choices will benefit Colour blind web visitors. Separate blocks or lines of yellow, blue and green or images become indecipherable. Keep in mind that many people are colour blind to certain colour combinations, i.e.blue/green and red/green, try to choose images carefully. Most audiences can read black text on a white background.
- Code the range accordingly. When clicking on items, the range needs to be as big as possible for a user with precise mobility difficulties. A tiny click area will feel like they are using an industrial roller to paint a fine dot.
- Kiss it! (Keep it simple sweetie), don’t use too much text. A ream of script is very hard to cope with if you have learning difficulties or are elderly. Keep paragraphs short and use simple language that is easy to understand. Keep pages as short as possible for blind users who are using a screen reader, it’s very hard to search for a particular place on long pages.
- Offer visitors a help section. Make assistance accessible whenever possible. If your site has audio features, offer pointers on how sound can be amplified or how to utilise screen readers like Google’s free chromeVox http://www.chromevox.com/tutorial/
- If your website uses video, remember to include subtitles. It is also very valuable to offer a transcript of the video in a clear and accessible place. If the user can’t navigate to the transcript easily they may give up and leave.
- Highlight Links. Always underline or change the colour of links to make them easy to find.
- Make use of available resources. The BBC have a number of ‘How to’ guides http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/guides/ with advice on making a keyboard easier to use, how to magnify the screen, changing font and where to access sign language for web users.
- Underline that you are user friendly. Adopt symbols for quick identification of a site that has enhanced website access for disabled users. For example the key globe by the national centre for accessible media.
- Offer a really good descriptive text for each image. Use clear and imaginative descriptions to bring the image to life .Choose words carefully and adequately verbalise the meaning of the image and what happens if you click on it. Incorporate Alt tags in the same way.
- View the government guidelines on accessible web sites, the Equality Act 2010, how to test a user friendly site and other related information.