We need to improve website accessibility, because accessibility should not be an optional extra. It is disheartening even to write these words. But the stark reality is that businesses have not given website accessibility much thought in the past. Which is quite astonishing considering that 20% of the population live with a disability.
Living on the Spectrum hosts over 700 businesses and organisations in our free online autism directory and neurodiversity hub. Because of this, it gives us a great insight into what makes an accessible website. For every business that has nailed website accessibility, there are ten that could be doing better.
Why we should improve website accessibility
For those businesses that service the disability sector in particular, website accessibility should be your priority. After all, you are asking individuals to trust in your service. Along with trust, you are asking individuals to pay you for a service that will and should improve their life outcomes. But can this be so if you lack a fundamental understanding of accessibility? I am not trying to be divisive here, but it proves to be contradictory if you are offering a disability service without providing a disability-friendly website. Below are six things you can do right now to improve the accessibility of your website. These are easy and quick changes that can improve your client base and assist your users.
As a side note, this should be something all business should be doing. People with a disability have money spend. They also have a choice on how they spend it and, ultimately who gets their business!
It’s all about You.
Let’s talk about the “About us” page on websites. This section is to tell the website users what you do clearly. Does your About you page tell me what you do in the first two sentences? If not, it needs to be changed today. While it is vital to learn more about you, I would like to know what you do and how you can help me without going through countless paragraphs about your achievements.
I am busy. I also have ADHD, so if I get too distracted or bored, I will likely leave your page because something has prompted me to search for cute cat videos. It’s a joke, but it is a reality. Get to the point, so your users know if the service product or event is right for them. And do it quickly.
Use accessibility Widgets
There are a vast number of apps, plugins, and programs that you can use right now to make your website accessible. We use the free USERWAY plugin here at LOTS. This allows the user to stop animations on demand, and it can change the contrast. It also offers Dyslexia friendly font and many more accessibility functions. User Way is just one of many available to use on your website. These plugins and apps allow users to customise your website to access, read and use your website with ease and convenience.
Use ALT text in images.
ALT text is the text description offered by your website for every Image you upload. Many websites ignore this feature altogether. ALT text, which is short for Alternative Text. It is important for SEO and Google ranking. However, one of the most important reasons to use ALT text is for the use of accessibility programs designed for audio and visually-impaired individuals.
When an individual with a visual disability or impairment uses a program that reads text aloud as they browse a webpage, the program will scan the image and read the ALT text to the user to describe the image. Without ALT text, the program reading out loud will skip the image, and the user will not be able to access the whole webpage.
Use closed captions in all videos.
Adding closed captions to all your videos is essential. It is vital for visually impaired users. However, it is also helpful for neurodivergent users. An auditory and visual aid can assist with comprehension and engagement.
It may surprise businesses to learn that many users, regardless of if they have a disability or not, use websites and social media with the sound off. This can be because of shared common areas or communal workspaces. It could also be due to auditory sensory issues. So, it makes sense to use closed captions on all video content, regardless of where it is uploaded to.
Ensure all links are clearly marked.
It is essential to let your clients and users know where a link will direct them to. Removing ambiguity makes your website easier to use. It also has the bonus of ensuring trust. In the age of Data breaches, people need to know where your link will lead them.
Making your website easy to use is a must to ensure accessibility. Instead of “Click Here” use “Sign Up Page” of “Click here to sign up” Don’t try and be clever with wording. While it may be tempting to have “The magic is here” it is confusing and unnecessary.
Tell us about your in-person accessibility.
Nothing is more frustrating than having to phone a service provider or shop to ask about accessibility. Let people know about your in-person accessibility on your website. Do you have wheelchair access? Are there accessible toilets? Do you have a quiet space? Don’t keep this a secret. Share away! Also, if your venue is not accessible, tell people. Again, nothing is more frustrating than heading to a restaurant in a wheelchair only to discover you cannot go to the toilet while dining. Be honest. Honesty will not cost you clients if that is your thought. Those clients you cannot service were never going to be your clients anyway.
Keep an eye out at Living on the Spectrum, as we will be sharing more about how to improve website accessibility tips in the future and launching an exciting new initiative in this space. For more information email us at email@example.com