Tips for Making your Website Disabled-Friendly

Tips for Making your Website Disabled-Friendly

March 30th, 2015   |  

Navigating the web can often be frustrating for even the most capable and savvy of users. So envision yourself trying to do so with a sight, hearing, or any other kind of impairment. Hard to imagine, right? Fortunately, creating a robust website that also addresses the needs of the disabled isn’t as complicated as you’d think.

It’s important for us to recognize that people with disabilities use and view a website differently than people without disabilities. It’s equally as important for us to recognize that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and affect a multitude of people. While many of us envision such devastating disabilities as lost limbs or complete blindness, disabilities range in severity and form. To help clarify this point, we’ve identified two common disabilities and the best practices we follow to improve user experiences.

Example 1: Many men have some degree of color blindness. To relieve some of the eye strain they encounter from websites designed with a palette of similar colors, we like to design websites that embrace contrast. For example, use white text over a dark background as compared to light blue text over a medium blue background.

Think you see color perfectly? Take the online color challenge to find out.

Example 2: People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are often distracted and made inattentive by an over-stimulating environment. To reduce the likelihood of a user becoming over-stimulated, we thoughtfully consider the balance of text, graphics, and animations on a webpage as well as include a clear method by which a user can hide an animation to focus on relevant information. Additionally, we ensure that the webpage’s intent or ‘call-to-action’ is clearly labeled in an effort to minimize user confusion and distraction.

Now that we’ve highlighted a couple examples, we’d like to share some simple and effective best practices you can follow as you design and build a website for all users, including those with disabilities.

  1. Apply alt-tags (alternative attributes) and title tags to describe graphics, images, and videos on your webpage. The learning disabled and visually-impaired often use a screen reader tool that will interpret content for them.
  2. Ensure that your text can resize up to 200% without losing information, using a standard and current browser.
  3. Make sure that color is not used as the only way of conveying information (i.e. include the numerical percentage when displaying a statistical pie chart).
  4. Program website functionality so that it is available via a mouse AND a keyboard.
  5. Ensure that there are at least three different ways users can access information (i.e. search bar, primary navigation, and footer navigation).
  6. Don’t use “click here” for links. Your links should always make contextual sense when viewed on its own.
  7. Use clear and simple language.

View the full list of web accessibility principles.

While the list above are some good best practices, these guidelines do not guarantee your website will be compliant with Section 508, the U.S. law pertaining to electronic and information technology standards.

Want help in making your website more user-friendly for the disabled? We’re fully qualified to pinpoint your audience, determine their unique web needs, and establish a set of principles to abide by throughout the design and development phases. Contact us today to learn more!

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