Getting your website set up to meet ADA standards doesn't have to be difficult. Thanks to the guidelines published and recently updated, web creators now have a simple framework to follow when building sites with accessibility in mind. These six tips will give you an idea of what you can do right away to bring your site up to speed.
Read Through the Guidelines
The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 are your best resource for updating your site. These guidelines are well organized to help you move through your site point by point addressing accessibility in terms of whether or not the content is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. This tool will be invaluable for you as you work.
Understand How it Impacts Your End Users
Web designers should not undertake an ADA project begrudgingly. The truth is that ADA compliance impacts a large number of users, particularly those with partial vision impairments. It is the subtlest of details that can seriously hinder a user's experience, such as the contrast of the text to the background. Doing a little bit of research among your current users may reveal issues that you had never even considered before.
Think About Formatting
Web designers are used to talking about site accessibility from a range of devices including desktop computers and mobile devices. However, the ADA compliance conversation needs to include devices like screen readers that are used to translate content for an end user. Screen readers need text to be properly formatted in order for it to work. If you have don't text inside of images, the reader won't pick up on it.
Use an Accessibility Scanner
Even the best web designers won't catch everything. Fortunately, there are a handful of accessibility scanners that exist to help you get the job done. These scanners read through your content, flag anything that may not be accessible, and send you a report so that you can address any issues found. Once all items pass muster, they give you a badge to put on your site, indicating compliance.
Consider Navigation Methods
Creative menu options may be fun, but oftentimes they make it difficult for users who are using accessibility devices. Making sure your site can be navigated with a keyboard alone is helpful for a number of reasons. More importantly, ensuring that your content flows logically down a page when navigating using the keyboard is important. Content shared in multiple columns may become unreadable to some readers because software programs don't know what order to read the content in. Also on this topic, it is important that your navigation system remains the same throughout all pages of your site. Changing navigation methods on a handful of pages can pose a significant and confusing challenge for users.
Choose Your Color Scheme Wisely
Part of the joy of designing a site is choosing a color scheme and aesthetics that makes the site pop. Unfortunately, color is one of the biggest culprits for poor accessibility. Poorly contrasting colors make it difficult to read any site. Furthermore, some end users are faced with color blindness or partial vision which prevents them from seeing the full spectrum of colors on your site. Most of these users use software that translates all sites into a color scheme that is readable specifically for them. If your site does not allow this kind of flexibility, you could be preventing users from accessing your content at all or leaving them with incomplete content.
These are six tips for addressing accessibility on any site. As always, keeping the WCAG 2.0 guidelines open on your desktop as you build or tweak your site is a great way to ensure that you hit all of the important points. For more information, contact our design team today.