Accessing information should be easy for everyone, regardless of any obstacles they may face. The Internet is full of information that can be used productively. The only barrier that sits between information and people who suffer from various disabilities is accessibility. Accessibility upgrades are the ones that change the User’s Experience (UX) the most, and that’s the focus of this article. Web designers know how difficult it is to transmit a message through visuals. Imagine how is it like to send a signal through audio content alone. There are hundreds of people who have blindness or visual impairment in Calgary alone. The only solution they have to access the information that can be found online is through screen readers. Screen readers are software installations that present information that can be found online through an audio interface. These devices read all the content they can find on a website so that it reaches the user effectively.
It sounds good in theory, but the problem is that most websites are not built and optimized to make the UX suitable for such users. Screen readers can’t correctly capture the text information if it is not organized well, if the website contains mostly graphic content and if it doesn’t have the necessary accessibility features that would make the content accessible to reach for disabled people. Screen readers are an excellent way to make information available, but web developers must stay away from poor practices and step up their game to make UX better for ‘all’ users, no matter what problem they may have. In this sense, here is a list of all the things you should pay attention to when building a website that’s accessible for visually impaired users, through the medium of screen readers.
Test your website for accessibility
First things first, the site must be tested for accessibility, to give you an idea of where to start. Web accessibility became a sensitive topic for most users, and it should be treated with more respect. All websites should either have an accessibility mode where information is compatible with screen readers or should be already be optimized to give users the best experience, regardless of what problems they might face. To test your website for accessibility concerning visually impaired users, you can use free, open-source programs out there and see how things go. If you were blind yourself, would you be able to understand what this website offers? Is information well-structured? Is it efficient to listen? Does it take too long to get to the part that indeed presents what’s essential about a service or a product? If all these questions lead you to the conclusion that your website needs to be optimized for accessibility, then you need to start right away. After testing your site, start making changes. Continue reading this article to find out what’s the easiest way to make your content accessible.
Clear explanations and titles
Your website must be free of unnecessary content. Any word that’s written without a purpose on your site will make the user experience worse. Why? Because the user must wait until a phrase that tells him nothing is over. Screen readers is software that reads the information that you structure within your alt-attributes called “Alternative Text.” You must find a way to make all the content on your website extremely clear. That will help both disabled users and regular users to find what they are looking for much quicker. The same goes for titles. Clear SEO titles that tell users precisely what the content is going to be about will help them navigate the website faster, which leads to an overall better UX.
When there’s a lot of content on a website that’s sectioned into different sections via web design might be the best idea to make the site accessible for visually impaired people. A screen reader can recognize specific commands, and users can skip parts that they are not interested in or that they already know about. Skip links are standard links that can be made invisible for regular users. The screen reader will use these links to jump to the piece of text that the user is genuinely interested in. This will reduce the time that people must spend on the website, looking for specific details.
Popups represent another detail that you must deal with. Using popups that don’t close when using the keyboard will make the website inaccessible for visually impaired users, or at least will worsen the UX. Don’t use popups at all for the best experience for all sorts of users. If you must use popups, you need to make them easy to dismiss, by pressing one key only. Popups are the enemy of accessibility, and if you respect your website, you need to stay away from them. More than that, using little to no popups at all will improve your website’s overall performance, so it’s an action you should take regardless of the purpose of your site.
Problems you may encounter
Some issues that your website may have can only be fixed if you discuss with a professional company. Parxavenue Ltd. is a web design company that can deal with these issues fast and effectively. The most common problems encountered in non-optimized websites regarding accessibility are:
- Captchas – Captcha codes cannot be seen by visually impaired users, which means they can’t access the site in any way. Make them accessible by offering users multiple methods to get past them, such as audible content.
- Keyboard support – Always include keyboard support for your website. Visually impaired people can’t navigate on the site using a mouse.
- Reduce the number of graphics – Images with text on them look great for regular users, but if you want to turn your website into an accessible one, you must minimize the number of graphics, make them readable or get rid of them altogether. If you include images on your website, focus on elevated alt texts, to describe the content of the image adequately.
- Proper HTML – Finally, pay attention to your HTML code. The HTML code is the one that organizes your website from top to bottom. This will make your site screen reader-friendly.