How To Make Your Website More Accessible
What does 508 compliant mean? Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that organizations must follow certain guidelines to ensure that every information, digital products and services are accessible to people living with disabilities.
ADA refers to Americans with Disabilities Act that protects any American with disabilities from being discriminated against based on their disability from accessing any digital products like websites.
The Communication and Video Accessibility Act ( CVAA) ensures increased access of persons with disabilities to modern communication through new digital broadband and mobile innovations.
There are several steps you can undertake to make your website is more accessible to people with disabilities. They include:-
- Add images with Alt text to describe your images to disabled users
- Give your users the ability to enlarge font sizes
- Keep contrast sensitivity in mind when creating your website
- Add keyboard navigation for your users
- Make video and multimedia accessible
- Use descriptive URLs
- Use ARIA roles which is the accessible rich Internet Applications
- Avoid using Placeholder text in forms
- Minimize the use of tables on your website.
Do the Accessibility Test
Accessibility testing is the practice of making your website user friendly to many people as possible. This test addresses disabilities like vision impairment, hearing disabilities and any physical and cognitive condition in people. Here are some of the accessibility tests that you can carry out to determine the accessibility of your website.
- Unplug your mouse and/ or turn off your trackpad to allow you to use the keyboard to find your way around.
- Turn on high contrast mode to allow low vision users, light-sensitive and people with Dyslexia to use the computer conveniently.
- Turn off Images to determine if the content makes sense and is easily understood by people with cognitive disorders.
- Check for Captions or Transcripts on your website. There should be captions for videos and the control to turn them off and on.
- Click on Field Labels
- Turn off Cascading Stylesheets (css), the preferred method of handling layout and visual presentation of web interfaces.
Every person has a right to use any digital product like your website without discrimination and biases based on any disability. The law is clear on making your website accessible to these special groups of people through making some adjustments and improving their experience with your business. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was created to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals and organizations globally. WCAG complaint means that your web content is more accessible to people living with disabilities.
Section 508 Standards
Section 508 is an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires the federal government websites to be safe and accessible for people with disabilities.
These features will help your website be section 508 compliant:
- Closed Captioning & Subtitles-This is including the text for the hearing impaired to audio or video files with audio components.
- Screen Reader Capability- Every website should have the ability to be accessed with a screen reader for the visually impaired and people with cognitive and learning disabilities.
- Accessibility with Keyboard – This is ideal for people with motor disabilities who depend only on the keyboard to access your website.
- Skip Navigation Links- With this feature, a user should be able to skip repetitive content and move to the main content of the desired section on your website.
- Alternative Image Text-This feature needs all images to have descriptive text attached to them for the visually impaired.
- Alternative iFrame/ Video Text-Color Allocation and Contrast- Alternative text for videos to allow screen reader software to describe an embedded video.
- Color Allocation and Contrast-A good website should ensure the right color contrast to make it readable for the users.
- Color Schemes and Page Layout for Seizure – Design your website while knowing that certain color schemes and screen flickers can cause seizures in people with certain disorders.
- Avoid Block Zoom- This feature enables zoom functionality which helps people with visual impairment disorder.
- Timeouts-Design your website to give a warning and ample time for a timeout for your users.
Make all future content accessible.
The future in the Information communication technology world is bright, and as a company with an online presence, you need to be prepared in making your future content accessible. It would be best if you considered more disabilities as you create your website to cater to the increasing number of people living with disabilities without bias. Purpose to apply more technologies on your website like virtual reality, voice assistants that will improve the experience of the special people living with disabilities on your website.
The future of web and content should be focussed and conform to the set standards and requirements that the law has dictated on disability and special needs. It would be best if you utilized the emerging technologies while aiming to support the technologies that impact accessibility to every person without discrimination in the digital platforms.
The future calls for flexibility to adapt to the emerging changes that will be inclusive to people living with any form of disability.
Your website should be section 508 compliant by ensuring that people with disabilities can access every area in the same manner that is available to everyone without discrimination.
Accessibility, according to section 508, is the ability to make your services, products and information easily available for people with physical disabilities to improve their lives.
You can make your website content accessible by incorporating tools, technologies designed and developed to improve the experience of people living with disabilities when using and interacting with your web content.
Some tools have been designed as per the WCAG guidelines to help you run a test on your website compliance to section 508.
Over 20 % of people live with disabilities in America today, and it’s important to make your website fully accessible and compliant with the set guidelines and rules by performing accessibility check. When you comply with the law, you improve your odds with the search engine, cater for a special group of people who will enhance your business and increase your company.