After the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was passed people wondered how that would affect the internet. There weren’t any specific guidelines given to ensure that all websites were accessible to people with disabilities. Later the WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, were released to help companies build their websites to be more accessible for those with disabilities.
Whether you are creating a website from scratch or trying to update your existing website, this article should be able to help you. Here are 11 things to keep in mind when creating your website and 6 things to remember as you update it so people with disabilities can still easily access your information.
If you are designing your website or have hired someone else to design your website and you want it to be more accessible for those with disabilities then here are some common suggestions.
It is important to make your website easy for a screen reader to work with. The Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired suggests checking your website with a screen reader called Jaws to see if it is screen reader friendly.
Another option that we've found to be helpful (and free) is the NVDA screen reader.
A few things to keep in mind when setting up your website to be easily read by a screen reader:
Something as simple as the wrong colors can make reading a screen very difficult for the visually impaired. Always use colors that have high contrast, for example, don’t use dark blue text on a light blue background. Also, when working with things such as the layout of the webpage remember these things:
Pop-up buttons or balloons are distracting and make it more difficult to navigate. If you feel like you need to have additional information on your website in the form of a pop-up or modal, then try this:
You’ll want to ensure your that the CSS of your website functions in a responsive, logical, and understandable manner.
Links can be confusing to both the visually impaired and their helpful screen reader devices. To eliminate confusion, keep these things in mind:
Keyboards are crucial for the blind and visually impaired so it is important that your website functions well with keyboard commands.
Forms should be easy to understand through a screen reader and they should have the ability to accomplish all functions with the keyboard.
You will want to make sure that all of your tables on your website are clearly labeled and laid out.
With images and multimedia presentations there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind for visitors with visual or hearing impairments.
PDFs have their own set of challenges when it comes to creating an accessible version for your website visitors. A few tips to keep your PDFs more accessible:
Get a more in-depth look at creating accessible PDFs from the University of Ottawa.
If you use Adobe Acrobat Pro to create your PDFs, then you should have the ability to run each document through an accessibility checker and make them more accessible.
To run your PDF through an accessibility checker:
To make your PDF more accessible with Adobe Acrobat Pro:
For a more in-depth look at making your PDFs accessible with Adobe Acrobat Pro, visit helpx.adobe.com.
Once you have your website set up, you can test it to see how accessible it is by running it through the following programs:
If you just need to make a few simple updates to your website like a new page here or an extra paragraph there then remember these tips to keep your website as accessible as possible:
1. Font Type: Font choices that are easier for the visually impaired to distinguish are Times New Roman, Ariel, and Tahoma.
2. Font Size: Try to keep all text on your website no smaller than 14 pt font.
3. Color: Keep a solid colored background and make sure the font color contrasts well with the background color so the text is easily distinguishable.
4. Brightness: Any visitor to your website should be able to adjust the contrast, brightness, and color.
5. Headings: Make sure all of your headings are clear and make sense if read by a screen reader.
6. Images and Multimedia: Include alt attributes in your images, and include captions or transcripts for any videos or podcasts you choose to display.
If you found this information helpful but would like more in-depth instructions for making your website as accessible as possible, then visit the Northwest ADA Center for more tips to Accessible-ize Your Website.