As you can experience every day online, fully accessible websites are few and far between. Despite the increasing attention to accessible website design, even several government sites recently failed to comply with W3C accessibility standards.
In the US, the Social Security Administration provides webmasters with a treasure trove of tips and best practices on accessible websites design, like:
- guidelines and legislation on accessibility;
- frequently asked questions on how to read an accessible web page.
But how do you make a website really accessible?
The next time you discuss web accessibility with one of your webmaster friends, or if you are yourself a web designer, consider these four simple tips that will help make your website accessible:
- Always use alternative text, a description or a few keywords that appear if an image is not loaded or if the user is unable to see it. Alt-text will help those who use screen readers to “hear” what is shown in a picture or in a video.
- Write titles and headers that are simple, eloquent and clearly structured. This will facilitate users with reading aids to better understand how content is organized and allow them to use keyboard navigation instead of the mouse.
- Hyperlinks text must have a clear and unequivocal meaning, to be correctly interpreted by reading aids like screen readers. Always avoid unclear or generic expressions like “click here” and use, instead, text that explain what the link can do for the reader, for example: “here is how to create a hyperlink“.
- To facilitate navigation, and to allow users to switch between different content sections simply and rapidly, you should provide shortcuts with links to the main content, to the top of the page, to the next section in the page or to the following page.
Your webmaster friends should not worry about accessibility spoiling their game, they can have an attractive and well structured website that is also accessible!
A good example is www.rnc.ac.uk, the graphics are simple, the content is clear and there is an extensive use of alternative text.
Do you have any website in mind which impressed you in terms of graphics and accessibility? Or were you disappointed by the interaction with a website you thought was accessible?
Share with us your experience!
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