If you are planning a website for your business, you probably know how you want it to look and what products or services you’ll offer. You may have written several blog posts to attract people to the site.
There is one thing many people starting a business website do not think of, and that is making the site accessible to everyone who wants to use it. The Americans With Disabilities Act and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines set the standards for what makes a website accessible to differently-abled people.
The ADA is a civil rights law passed in the 1990s. It was created to ensure all people have access to public and business services. The WCAG was put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium. A company that does not follow these guidelines may face fines.
According to accessiblyapp.com, there are 5 basic accessibility principles to follow.
1. The Structure and Content of Your Site Must Be Accessible
The structure and content of your website must be easy for people to see and read. People who have intellectual disabilities must be able to read and understand the content on your site. Hence, you must use plain language and avoid esoteric references or idioms to describe things.
2. People with Limited Eyesight Must Be Able to Use the Site
There are certain color combinations that a colorblind person cannot see. The contrast between the colors in the background and foreground has to be sharp. The ability to distinguish color must not be required to use your website. For example, You should not have games on your site that require selecting a color unless you have alt text describing that color.
3. Hyperlinks Must Be Accessible
The words you attach to a hyperlink should be short and to the point. The text you link should clearly describe the content the link takes you to. You should never use phrases like “click here” or “find out more by clicking here”.
4. Always Use Alt Text
Pictures are an important part of any website. If you are running a store, the website will show most of the products you offer. However, not everyone will be able to see those pictures. They will use software that reads the content on your site to them. Hence, each picture you have on your site must have alt text. That is text describing images on the site.
If you have videos on your site, you must offer a closed captioning option.
5. Your Site Must Be Accessible by Keyboard
People who have dexterity problems, eyesight issues, or suffer from paralysis might not be able to use a mouse. A person should be able to experience all your site has to offer with their keyboard. They should be able to navigate tabs and make selections by using arrow keys.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, there are widgets you can purchase that will scan your site and make sure you are compliant. Compliance will keep you from having legal trouble and drive more traffic to your site.