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A Brief Introduction to Accessibility Online

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What would we do if we didn’t have the internet?

After only three decades of life, the internet has become a lifeline for many of us. It is how we operate businesses, learn new information, connect with one another and create an extension of our identity.

There are millions and millions of websites that make up the internet now a day. But, the sad reality is that not all websites are accessible to everyone.

Having accessibility online is a legal right that was a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just as with public spaces, having accessibility on the web is a guaranteed right for everyone. This means that websites are expected to be easy to navigate, use and consume. Websites should have limited barriers that invite an inclusive community to use the website.

But when you are in the midst of building a website, it can be easy to overlook this crucial aspect. You are so consumed with building the Rolls Royce of websites, that you are focused on making the website look beautiful, represent your brand and be a piece of your company’s identity that you are proud of.

Ensuring that you, your web developers, content creators and designers are all familiar with website accessibility and implement this in all that they do, we’ve created a brief introduction to accessibility online and what you should know about it.

1. Keep it Clear and Simple

Not everyone got a Harvard education. To make your website sound inclusive right from the get-go, you will want to use clear and simple language that anyone can understand, even if they have cognitive or learning disabilities. To do this, you will want to organize your content logically and put the important information upfront. You will also want to avoid using complicated phrases or words that really only belong in a thesis paper. Another trick is to make your language personable. Write it as if you are talking to that specific individual. This will allow the audience to feel more connected to what you are saying.

2. Always Use Alt Text and Captions

Having great content on your website is important. But making sure it is accessible to all is equally important. If you upload a video but it doesn’t have subtitles or a transcript, how are they supposed to engage with it? If you have beautiful images but no alternate text that describes the image in detail, how is someone who is visually impaired supposed to connect with that content? Adding captions and alternate text may seem like a hassle, but it will only take a small portion of your time which results in an incredibly inclusive and accessible website.

3. Create Content that is Easy to Navigate

A solid user experience is the goal of any website. But you have to also remember that not everyone exploring the website is you. You will want to dumb it down to the point of assuming that your audience has no prior knowledge of who you are, what you do or why they should care. A foolproof way to create an easy-to-navigate website is by breaking up the text into small sections, using a range of headings that are structured logically and checking that any supporting documents like PDFs are also made accessible to disability supporting technology.

4. Focus on Color Contrast

Brand colors are a huge component of your brand identity. But you also want to make sure that the contrast of colors will support your website’s accessibilities. The colors you choose impact the way in which people absorb and interact with information. So while web designers have chosen colors that best support your brand guidelines, you also want to make sure that it does not detract from the rest of the content that sits on the same page. A great way to check that your color contrast is accessible is by using online tools that rate the ratio of color to text.

5. Continually Audit Yourself

Chances are you will constantly be updating your website with new content. Make sure that you are also then auditing that content to check it is meeting all the accessibility criteria. An easy way to do this is by getting software that provides you with a widget to do it automatically. The widget will be able to both checks for accessibility and make automatic edits to enhance the accessibility of your content. It is a foolproof way to guarantee your website is accessible to all.

Making your website accessible should be at the top of your to-do list when building a website. With these five tips, you can easily achieve that.

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