Don't forget who your audience is when planning your site - make sure you include everyone.
The Internet has dramatically changed the way we shop, communicate, get information, and do business. We need to be mindful of how all people receive the information from a website - including those with disabilities. Accessibility is a very important piece of a website's overall design. It is part of the process that should be considered when planning a website from the beginning because having to go back and make changes on certain web elements can cost a lot of time and money. So, have accessibility in mind from the beginning.
While this doesn't apply to everyone, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local government entities to "provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden."* And, since many government websites now offer valuable information through website interfaces, accessibility is required by law. Again this won't affect all websites, but it's just a good practice to ensure your entire audience can enjoy your content.
The American Disability Association has listed several common problems with website accessibility. Here are three major ones to keep in mind as you plan your site.
- Images without ALT text. People with low vision or no vision utilize screen readers or Braille displays to experience websites. When an image doesn't have a text description that can be displayed when the image can't be, the image experience for the visually impaired audience members is lost. To alleviate this problem, simply add an "alt" tag inside your image HTML code. It could look like this: <img src="img_girl.jpg" alt="Girl in a jacket"> The alt tag should be a description of what the person would see in the photograph if they could see it.
- Provide documents in a text-based format. When documents are posted on a website, they should be in an alternative text-based format in addition to PDFs. Text-based documents are most compatible with assistive technologies.
- Add a transcript option and closed captioning to audio clips and videos. Hearing-impaired persons can typically see websites and videos just fine, but they cannot hear voiceovers or any audio in the videos. To ensure that these audience members can fully participate with videos or audio segments on your website, provide a transcript and/or closed captioning on your video.
There are many other things you can do to ensure your audience is getting the most out of your website and lots of tools that can be used to detect when certain parts of your website are out of compliance. At InGen, our developers use several different tools and plugins to check the accessibility level of color choices and continuous audits of our compliance level. We ensure that any website we design and build is WCAG/ADA compliant through various reports.
If you have a website that you want to ensure is accessible for all persons in your audience, contact us today.
*“Dept. of Justice Guidelines on Government Website Compliance with ADA.” The Public Record, vol. 48, no. 43, Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum, June 2021, p. 8.