According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the US live with a disability. 4.6% have visual disabilities, 5.9% have hearing barriers, and there are many more with specific cognition and physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to access technology without the use of assistive software.
61 million Americans. That’s about 1 in 4 of the entire population. 1 in 4 people most businesses are not marketing to effectively because most marketing plans do not involve this demographic.
While website accessibility is regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, making an accessible website for people with disabilities is also an opportunity for you to tap into this huge and relatively overlooked segment.
Accessible Website For People With Disabilities: Best Practices
1. Provide text explanations for visual and video content.
Any image or video you post must have a description, and not just the products on offer. Tag images with alternative text to inform your visitors about what’s on the screen. Be as descriptive as possible, and if the image or video includes text, put all of the words into your alt-text too.
Infographics are especially problematic for some disabled users. Although your readers may be using a screen reader software, it will be unable to read the images on your infographic. But your alt tags can turn this unreadable content into a text-based content that would be easy to follow.
2. Label your forms and CTAs properly.
Filling up forms is the final step to a conversion. It may lead to a sale or newsletter sign-up, depending on your intent. But the lack of appropriate labeling can be a barrier for users with disabilities.
For example, a button labeled ‘Click Here’ or ‘Submit’ can be confusing. Why should they click or what is to be submitted? But if you label it instead as ‘Click To Sign Up,’ your reader will know what to expect.
Other things to consider:
- Keep instructions short and concise.
- Your forms should be keyboard-operable and can be filled up by using the Tab key to move across fields.
- Add enough contrast between your text and your buttons to make them color accessible
3. Provide multiple ways of reaching any page on your site.
Navigating your website should be as easy as possible for ALL users because it impacts traffic through search rankings. But making a website effortless to navigate is also one of the best practices in making an accessible website for people with disabilities.
You can do this by placing a search menu that people with low vision might feel more comfortable using than a complicated menu. People with cognitive impairment may find it easier to go through a site map rather than clicking through many pages.
Headings also help the visually-impaired go around your site more efficiently as these help them skip to the parts that they are interested in.
4. Use logical hyperlink texts that provide clear instructions.
Hyperlinks connect pages and sites together, allowing a user to jump to a page with related content for more information. Since most screen reader software will allow a user to jump from link to link, a good rule of thumb in hyperlinking is to use descriptive words so that your visitor will know where your links will send them.
5. Use flexible font sizes.
Give your website visitors the option of making the text larger or smaller as desired, which is an important feature for people with low vision. Use relative font sizes like percentages instead of absolute units like points or pixels.
6. Avoid placing videos and audios that start automatically.
While the audio and video may enhance your website’s look and feel, having them automatically play as soon as the page loads can cause difficulties with people who use screen readers. The audio and video content will play at the same time as the screen reader will, making it an uncomfortable experience for these users.
If you must put in video or audio content, add an option for people to click on to start rather than having it start automatically.
7. Write in a clear way.
Plan your content to be as easy to read and understand as possible, allowing your website to cater to people with all kinds of difficulties. Remember that a website that the more accessible and user-friendly a website is, the better it converts.
8. Lastly, keep testing.
The look of your website can vary across different browsers and devices. Make sure to test if the accessibility features you’ve implemented will work on all. And while you’re there, make sure your site is mobile-friendly too.
Want to upgrade your site to be more accessible?
Contact us at (888) 498-5361, or drop us a note to let us know. We specialize in websites that convert and are accessible to all.