Can you imagine not having the internet at your fingertips?
The endless information it provides is no longer something that is nice to
have, it is essential. That’s why any reputable website should be accessible to
people of all abilities. Technology has come a long way to assist those with
disabilities such as online screen readers and screen magnification software
but if websites do not meet accessibility standards, these powerful tools would
So how can you tell if the website you’re using is
accessible to people of all abilities? Here are five easy things to look for. Although
many people may not realize these elements exist, they are a must-have for many
people with disabilities.
Check for alt text on
Good images can take any website and make it pop, but for those with vision impairments, good images simply aren’t enough. That’s why accessible websites use alternate text, otherwise known as alt text. For those with impaired vision who use screen readers, visualizing images is only possible if there is a description available for the screen reader to process. This is where alt text comes in. A truly accessible website provides descriptive text for images to ensure that people of all abilities can visualize images on the page.
Headings are everything
Hands down, the most important accessibility element on any
page is the page title. The page title describes what the page is and is
important for those who use screen readers. A contact us page, for example, a
contact page would be titled “Contact” or “Contact Us”. Seems simple, right?
However, some websites make the mistake of using multiple page titles on a
given page. Although this would not be noticed by many people, individuals who
use screen readers could be confused about what the page is for if the page
uses more than one page title.
Do links tell you where
they’ll take you?
One of the most common mistakes on a website is the use of
common calls-to-action like “read more” or “learn more”. These generic words do
little to explain where the user will be taken and what will happen when they
get there. Truly accessible websites use either the page title or some other
descriptive text so screen readers can easily tell the user what the link is
Additionally, accessible websites ensure clickable links stand out against the content that surrounds them. All links should be a different color than body text and should be either bolded or underlined to make it obvious that it is clickable. In addition, when the mouse hovers over links, they should change color or decoration to further emphasize them. Check out any of the links in this blog. Do you notice how the link changes color? This is done intentionally to further improve accessibility.
Can you navigate with your
A common method for people with disabilities to navigate
websites is by their keyboard, rather than a mouse. This is done through the
Tab key on any keyboard and will jump on the page to next clickable link,
image, or interactable object on the page. This is especially useful for going
through website menu navigation links with the keyboard.
Try it for yourself on the next website you use today. Can you navigate the page with your keyboard? If not, that website may not meet some basic accessibility standards.
Color contrast is key
Color Contrast refers to the difference in color between foreground and background colors, primarily when referring to text. The greater the contrast the easier it is to read, meaning light colored text should not go on light colored backgrounds. Same with dark text and dark backgrounds. Without this contrast, text is likely to get lost for someone with color blindness.
One more thing to look for
One of the least known accessibility elements is the Skip-to-content link. This link is an important element for screen readers and keyboard navigation because it allows users to skip over repeated and consistent elements of the header. The goal is for users to have a quick way get to the content of a page. An accessible website provides this option up front on the page when the using keyboard to navigate. Without this link, users with disabilities may need to tab or listen to every link in the navigation before they get to the content they were looking for.
All these accessibility elements are easy to check, and
although most people do not notice them, they are crucial to ensure that
websites, and the internet as a whole, is accessible to people of all