ARTICLE TITLE:8 Critical Features of an Accessible Website
ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:Making a website accessible is the right thing to do, and it's good for business. The more people can use your site, the more potential customers you will attract.
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ARTICLE SUBJECT:8 Features of an Accessible Website
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Making a website accessible is the right thing to do, and it's good for business. The more people can use your site, the broader your audience, and the more potential customers you will attract. But what does accessibility mean when talking about a website? What design concepts should you adopt, and who will benefit from them? Here's a rundown of eight critical features you need to incorporate into the website's design to make it accessible.

1. Color Contrast

A website should have sufficient contrast between text and the background. For example, black text on a white background provides a clear distinction. Light grey text on white, however, would be challenging to read. There should also be a good contrast between clickable elements, such as hyperlinks and buttons, and the background.

Color contrast is helpful for people with visual impairment, including the elderly and those with temporary impairment, such as cataracts. However, it is advisable not to rely solely on color for distinguishing elements because people with color vision deficiency (CVD) have difficulties distinguishing colors.

2. Keyboard-Only Navigation

Keyboard-only navigation is one of the most crucial design features of an accessible website. The ability to use the keyboard alone benefits people with motor impairments who cannot use a mouse. It is also essential for those who use screen readers. Keyboard-only navigation includes tabling between elements, selecting menu options and buttons, and hitting return instead of left-clicking the mouse.

As with all the features described here, keyboard-only operations aren't only a benefit for people with disabilities. Some people prefer to use the keyboard, and people with temporary hand or arm injuries will be glad of the feature.

3. Plain English

According to The Literacy Project, the average reading ability in the USA is that of a 12- to 14-year-old. Consequently, using plain, easy-to-read English will make a website accessible to a broad audience. For example, avoiding using complex language and breaking text into paragraphs and subheadings will help.

Using plain English helps a wide range of people, including those with learning difficulties, people with autism, dyslexia, and cognitive impairment. It will also help those with lower literacy levels and the people who skim-read websites.

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4. Large Buttons and Links

Small buttons and links are tricky for anyone to click on, especially on the smaller screen of a mobile device. As too are buttons and other clickable elements placed too close together. The challenge of using tiny buttons is even more significant for people with motor impairment. Therefore, it is vital to space controls out on a page and make them large enough for someone with motor impairment to use. Large buttons and links will also benefit the visually impaired, mobile device users, older people, and those less confident using the internet.

5. Correct Use of Headings

The logical use of H1, H2, and H3 tags will indicate that the text is a header to assistive technology apps. However, a screen reader will not recognize the text as a header merely because it is in a large, bold font. So, the proper use of headings is vital and will help people using assistive technology navigate and understand the content on the page. Logical titles will also be helpful to people with learning difficulties, cognitive impairment, and visual impairment.

6. Alt Tags on Images

Alt Tags, or alternative descriptions, are read aloud by screen readers, describing the content, for example, a picture. So, the proper use of Alt tags will benefit visually impaired people. Search engines also read alt tags, so explaining the content of an image can have SEO (search engine optimization) benefits. However, the content is alt tags must be written with their proper use in mind. A string of keywords in an alt tag would no use whatsoever to someone using assistive technology.

7. Video Captions

Video closed captions describe the sounds on a video. Unlike subtitles, which only display speech in written words, captions also describe sounds like a scream outside a door or a knock on the door. In this case, the two events would make someone inside the room look towards the door. However, someone screaming means something entirely different from someone knocking on the door. Consequently, videos can be almost impossible for a deaf person to interpret without captions. So, video captions assist deaf people and those with hearing impairment. They are also helpful when someone wants to watch a video but not disturb people around them.

8. Avoid Automatic Navigation and Media

Most people find music or videos that start playing when you land on a page mildly annoying. However, if you have difficulty seeing how to turn off auto-play media, that can be incredibly frustrating. Therefore, it is best to avoid any auto-pay media because finding the off-button can be challenging to locate using a screen reader. Furthermore, sudden loud noises or unexpected video footage can frighten some people. It is also best to avoid automatic carousels and sliders because some people need to interpret moving slides longer than others.

Conclusion                              

Designing websites that more people can use is the right thing to do. What's more, the features of an accessible site improve the experience for everyone and have search engine optimization benefits. Consequently, everyone, including the website owner, benefits from an accessible website. So, whether you are designing a new website or overhauling an existing one, consider accessibility in your design.

The above points outline eight of the most crucial aspects of accessible web design. Detailed Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) requirements are available on the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) website.

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Das  -  Thursday 7th December 2023 04:29:48 PM

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