5 essential needs - web accessibility checklist

Introduction:

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

In today’s inclusive world businesses must be certain that their products and services can be engaging for all users. Website accessibility is important to maintain ADA legal compliance, build your reputation, and approach the largest audience.

This article will give you the steps to create an accessible website, or audit an existing website. 

Agenda:

Why Use Accessible Website Design?

Impairment Description and Accessibility Checklist For: 

1. Visual Needs
2. Auditory Needs
3. Cognitive Needs
4. Speech Needs
5. Physical Needs

Why Use Accessible Website Design? 

Understanding the audience is very important to creating a pleasant experience for all your website visitors. Types of disabilities include: 

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Cognitive
  • Speech
  • Physical

Consider how a grocery store or restaurant would accommodate their disabled customers. Handicapped parking, entrance ramps, bright red exit signs, etc. Your website must be able to match the in-person experience already available to make it a viable option for these users. 

Website accessibility is not limited to only assisting those with disabilities. In fact, every user may need accessibility features at one point or another. Ever try to watch a video in a noisy environment? What about using apps or websites with weak internet connection? You have benefitted from their accessible design if so.

It is important to recognize that alternative ways to interact with a website result in happy users no matter if they are disabled or not. 

Visual Impairment:

Visual disabilities include blindness, nearsightedness, farsightedness, light sensitivity, and colorblindness to name a few. According to WHO, on a global scale 2.2 billion people have near or distance vision issues (World Health Organization). Among those 2.2 billion, 1 billion have moderate to severe impairment or blindness. 

This means that over 1 out of 4 people have some visual problems, and over 1 out of 10 suffer from moderate to severe impairment. The following checklist will help make your website more accessible. 

Visual Accessibility Features:

  • Alternative text is used to translate visuals into text and speech. Examples include a written description of images, graphs, and controls. Users navigating your site using speech or just a keyboard can utilize this as well. 
  • Reader’s view can be used to simplify web pages down to just the text content. Users can change font and size to consume it easier. 
    Magnification allows the user to zoom in and out of the elements within a site. Enabling this feature ensures visitors may engage freely. 
  • High contrasting colors between elements on the page helps those with colorblindness distinguish between different parts of your page. Signal that links are interactive elements by using different colors. 

Auditory Impairment:

According to the NIDCD, 1 out of 8 U.S. citizens over the age of 11 have hearing loss in both ears (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders). 1 out of 2 U.S. citizens over the age of 74 have disabling hearing loss.

There are a couple of implementations available to website owners to assist these users. 

Auditory Accessibility Features:

  • Synchronized captions allow those who cannot listen to a video to engage with the content. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok can generate these automatically for users. Their popularity has been growing alongside the rise of video content, to enable those in noisy public places to consume.
  • Transcripts are similar to captions, with the main difference being that users can read them at their own pace. As opposed to captions, Transcripts can also be translated to Braille for those with both auditory and visual disabilities.

Cognitive Impairment:

According to Mozilla, cognitive impairments include a broad range of disabilities including limited capacity for memory, learning, and recognition. ADDitude magazine reports that 50 to 60% of those who are diagnosed with ADHD have learning impairments. Dyslexia affects 8 to 17% of the global population’s ability to read and process that information.

Website owners can take the following actions to assist these users.

Cognitive Accessibility Features:

  • Clear headings help the user understand the main points of content within a website. Labeling these in HTML using H1 through H6 tags also helps those engaged with text-to-speech. Provide these headings at the beginning and with each section.
  • Reducing clutter is a universal accessibility feature that helps every visitor. Navigation of your site depends on a clear structure by assisting users to where they need to go. 
  • Limit elements that are moving, blinking, or generally distracting. Users must be able to stop or hide these elements if they create a negative experience using the site. 
  • Simple error messages can encourage users to stay on your website. Visual cues on where the problem occurred, text assistance, icons, and colors can all work together to help the user understand how the error happened and how to fix it. Submissions must be reviewable and reversed to avoid significant legal consequences. 

Speech Impairment:

According to the NIDCD, 7.5 million Americans suffer from speech impairment. These users may have trouble controlling their voice, pronouncing words, or the tempo of their sentences.

There are a couple of ways to include these users within your web design.

Speech Accessibility Features:

  • Include contact forms along with your phone number. Many of these users would be more comfortable typing out their inquiries rather than speaking over the phone. 
  • Reduce the reliance upon web applications that function using voice technology.

Physical Impairment:

According to the CDC, 16% of people have obstructions to their physical movement (Center for Disease Control). It is necessary to allow these visitors to interact with your website in various ways depending on their abilities.

Follow the checklist below to ensure your users can have a pleasant user experience.

Physical Accessibility Features:

  • Ensure you can navigate through a site using only a keyboard or speech. Users with motor impairments struggle using a mouse for fine movement. Label these functions to avoid issues while navigating. 
  • Disable time limits for submitting forms or other actions. Time limits can disrupt the user’s ability to complete tasks on your site.
  • Avoid small buttons that may go unnoticed or are hard to click. Disable movement on elements that hide other content, or your audience will exit.

Conclusion:

In short, website accessibility helps those with and without disabilities. Creating an inclusive website is not only an ADA legal requirement, but an identifier that you are supportive of your entire audience.

This checklist will help audit your site or provide guidelines for building a new one. If this article was helpful to you, let us know below.

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