It’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

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Accessibility, have you heard about it but aren’t so sure how it relates to your website?

Accessibility is the hottest topic of the moment when you talk about digital, and fittingly today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! Each year, on the third Thursday in May, GAAD (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) helps to bring worldwide attention to the importance of accessibility across the digital, technology and usability communities.

It’s about making websites more accessible to everyone and using the tools that are readily available across the web to do so! By having an accessible website, your marketing efforts and content are working hard for everyone who visits without excluding someone based on their disability.

How accessibility friendly is your website? 
Have you ever thought to check? Do you know how to check?

We have some helpful insights to show you the first steps on how to become more accessible which you can use on your website to be more user friendly for your customers!

Is this the first you’ve heard of GAAD?

The awareness day came out of social media exchanges between developers and accessibility experts who recognised that there was both a lack of awareness of the topic and also the lack of specific knowledge on how to apply appropriate standards. 

They saw there was, and still is, a huge need for accessibility to be available for everyone to use technology across the globe.

In some instances, it falls under law that businesses must create an accessible site under strict guidelines, but morally, it seems the most decent thing to do too. To ensure that you reach the maximum audience you can, following simple structure adaptations to your site will make it available to all.

In 2019, the most common accessibility failure was something as simple as low contrast text with a staggering 86.3% of homepages surveyed failing 

The WebAIM Million Study

Some highlights of poor results that came from their study:

missing document language, missing alternative image text, missing form inout label and empty link buttons

Changes that are benificial to you

It’s not difficult, nor all that time consuming to make these kinds of changes to your site to make them better for your audience however some changes may need developer intervention if you can’t make the change yourself. 

To implement accessibility compliance requires a number of skills and can range from the quick trivial improvements to some technical changes to your website structure. 

Here are five important areas you can ensure your site is accessible:

1. Add Alt Text to all images you insert into content pages.

With almost all CMS platforms there is an option to add an ‘Alternative text’ line when you upload an image. This text acts as a replacement for the image if it fails to load, butis also accessed by screen readers for users who may have the software ‘read’ the picture. You can, therefore, use this field to describe an image and give context to users who would otherwise miss it. 

On top of all that, filling in this one box can help bring your SEO up - organically! It gives search engines more information to crawl and can also be used to drop in an extra few keywords too - just make sure they describe the image!

2. Choose colours with care.

Sometimes we can talk or joke about colour blindness as if it’s a, no pun intended, black-and-white issue. 

However, people perceive colours in unique ways. Remember the outcry on social media about the black and gold dress (or whichever colours you saw?) 
Following this, it’s known that you need to make sure the colours you select on your site contrast well to ensure that everyone can distinguish between various elements on the page. Online checkers are available that allow you to see if your site or choice of colours, no matter how bad your designer eye maybe, work well, or not, for all of your users. 

3. Having the ability to resize the text on your site.

Most devices and browsers will have a function that allows users to resize text, which can be helpful for those with visual impairments or just for mum so she can hold her phone at arm’s length and squint. 

However, if you don’t build your site to support these kinds of features, resizing text could break your design or make it difficult to interact with your site. To make sure your site meets a standard that everyone can use, test your font sizes thoroughly by increasing the zoom level in your own browser on different devices. If you notice that content becomes difficult to read or navigate and you’re not sure how to combat it, you can check out this guide by WebAIM that discusses font size.

4.Create content with accessibility in mind!

Keep accessibility in mind for every aspect of your website. 

This means paying attention to relatively minor things that are easy to brush under the carpet, such as always fully writing out acronyms and making sure you give all your links unique, descriptive names and anchor text. Keep in mind that — just as your site should be usable by anybody from anywhere with any ability level — your content should be approachable, readable and well written no matter who discovers it and what their story is. 

Our client Epilesy Action 'fight to improve the lives of everyone affected by epilepsy' and on their site, advise that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines are taken into consideration around content creation on your website! These can include:

  • Foreground and background colors can be selected by the user.
  • Width is no more than 80 characters or glyphs (40 if CJK).
  • Text is not justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins).
  • Line spacing (leading) is at least space-and-a-half within paragraphs, and paragraph spacing is at least 1.5 times larger than the line spacing.
  • Text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent in a way that does not require the user to scroll horizontally to read a line of text on a full-screen window.

 5. Keyboard friendly

Put simply: for a website to be accessible, it must work without the need for a user to have or be able to use a mouse. This is because many assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only navigation. Therefore, this means you need to make it possible to use all of your site’s major features via a keyboard and nothing else. This includes accessing all pages, links, content, and so on. 

This is easy to test — simply use your own site without a mouse. If you find that you can’t access certain elements or that navigating is difficult, you can pinpoint those issues and make changes to them, now you’ve identified where they are!
To help you out with this, WebAIM provides a handy guide for keyboard accessibility design.

Making sure your site is welcoming to as many people as possible should be a top priority. Using a CMS that supports accessibility in its core, such as Drupal, that has a community of dedicated individuals ensuring accessibility is an important factor in the CMS is a positive thing when choosing a new website platform.Taking time to understand, adapt and equip your site to all needs of customers means that you are expanding your reach much further than before, through often very simple methods! 

Not only will your users thank you, but you’ll also likely see benefits in the form of increased traffic and conversions.

Are you struggling to know where to start or are you having trouble ticking all the accessibility boxes?

Get in touch with our team and we can work with you to make your website more accessible through support and training.

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