11 July 2023
Around 1 in 6 Australians have some form of disability. That is a lot of potential customers.
What do you think of when you hear ‘accessibility’? Visually impaired site visitors? Screen readers? Putting closed captions on your videos?
That’s a good start, but not all accessibility issues are about sight.
Many people experience accessibility issues through impaired hearing, intellectual or physical disability, or they’re simply tired, multi-tasking and can’t focus 100% of their attention on your site.
If you design content that is accessible for all forms of disability, you are opening your product and service offering to a much wider audience.
If you want to gain an A or AA WCAG rating, it’s best to get a professional audit done by an organisation like Vision Australia. They will review the:
of your website, apps and online services and provide you with a comprehensive list of accessibility issues.
If you just want to improve your site accessibility. Use these tips to audit and tidy up your content.
Yes, you know you need to put alt tags on images. But which images and what do we put in the tags?
I’ll give you a hint, you should put an alt tag on every image, but many of those tags should be empty. Confused? Read on; it’s pretty simple.
Put text in these tags: Images that add meaning to the page – diagrams, maps, pictures of your people, products, locations etc, etc.
Give them alt text that stands in for the information the image gives to sighted people.
Leave these tags empty: Page design images and decorative images like banners and promo tiles.
Give these images an empty alt=”” tag. This tells the screen reader that the image is there for visual design or decoration only. The screen reader will skip that image and not read it out to the user.
Please don’t give these images alt=”icon” or alt=”image” tags.
Screen readers will read each of these out. Imagine having to listen to “image”, “icon”, “image”, “image” each time you opened a webpage. It’d drive you nuts.
Those of us who live a life of mislaid reading glasses, squinting at restaurant menus and complaining about the tiny text on smartphones are a growing section of the population.
Sorry, Millennials, but the over-40s make up almost half the population, and our eyesight is not as sharp as it once was.
So, when you put text on a coloured background, it must stand out against that background, or we can’t read it.
The WCAG recommended contrast is 4.5:1 (with exceptions for larger text). You can find a contrast checker online or download a Google Chrome plugin to check your pages yourself.
Gen X and the Boomers will thank you.
I miss the days when everyone used a desktop computer with an 800 x 600 px screen to visit my websites. Designing was easy.
Today, people use anything from a widescreen TV to a smartwatch to access online content.
So, it’s vital to ensure your content is easy to scan and read on any sized screen. Choose a clear, sans-serif font that resizes well and is easy to read in various sizes.
In 1964 Bill English created the first computer mouse. Today every website and online application relies on a mouse (of finger) to work.
But some people don’t have the fine motor skills to operate a mouse or touch a very specific point on a screen. So, they need to use a keyboard or other device to tab through the links, fields, and buttons on screens.
To make things easier for them, make sure you set the tab order of each link, field, and button in your code.
As we browse more online content on smartphones, watches and other small devices, screens are getting smaller and smaller. This means link text and buttons are getting smaller too.
Unfortunately, our fingers aren’t keeping pace with this miniaturisation. The average ‘touch’ space for an adult fingertip is around one square centimetre.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the frustration of touching the wrong button on your smartphone. Did someone say iPhone keyboard??
Have a chat to your designers and ask them to make the buttons on your online apps large enough so your users can touch the right button confidently.
And when you’re creating navigation or link lists, put enough space between links so users can confidently touch the right link.
Good link text is vital for screen readers. Most screen readers create lists of links on each page they scan.
If you use link text like “Read more” or “Find out more”, your visually impaired users will hear a very unhelpful list.
Sure, you can give your links a link description, but why not make life easier for everyone and just write clear, informative link text?
Language is a funny thing. We think in language and talk in language. Still, almost every day, we read something in our language that we don’t fully understand.
This is less surprising when you understand that human communication is 55% body language, 38% voice, and only 7% words.
So, imagine how hard it is to understand written content, on a small screen when you’re tired, distracted, multi-tasking or living with an intellectual impairment.
The written content on your website, apps and online services forms the signposts, instructions and often the body of your offering.
Make sure your content is simple, self-explanatory, and easy to read for all your users. Aim for a reading level of grade 8 where possible.
In 2022, 82% of global internet traffic was video content. We love our cat videos.
To make sure everyone can enjoy your video content, make sure you include:
You can use Microsoft Word spellcheck or https://hemingwayapp.com/ to test the reading level of your content.
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