The Importance Of Accessibility In Web Design

The Importance Of Accessibility In Web Design

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By Mark B Ellaway

Nowadays, with a wide range of audiences using the world wide web, websites need to cater for everyone – otherwise you risk losing potential customers. This not only applies to demographics such as young and old people, or people speaking different languages but also those with visual, auditory or physical disabilities. The UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities even states that access to information and communications technologies including the web is actually a basic human right.

A website that is able to be used by all is known as being accessible and is a very important topic to consider when thinking about a new website. There are many factors to consider however, as even in one disability such as visual, there are a range of different cases. For example, a colour-blind person would need a version of the site where the colours are not an issue. Many colour-blind people would not be able to see writing of one colour on top of a different coloured background.

Fully blind web users will most likely use a screen reader in order to surf the net. This is a device that reads what is on the site aloud; however it does not read the design. To test, Google your website, a click ‘Cached’ under the search result. Then click ‘Text-Only Version’ in the top right hand corner. This will show you approximately how your screen will be read from top to bottom. If you have a poorly laid out site, it will not make much sense for a blind user using a screen reader.

It is also vitally important to make sure you use alternative text for your images correctly. Many SEO companies take advantage of these tags and stuff them with keywords. However, the aim of them is so that users with screen readers can tell what an image is by the description – so make sure to use appropriate text here.

Many websites already cater for partially sighted people and provide a larger text version of their website that is far easier to read. This is particularly useful for older people or those than need reading glasses to read or drive.

For users with hearing impairments, it is important to provide a script for any video or audio tools used on the site. Then be sure to make the button for this easily visible to improve user journey.

For those with a physical disability who cannot use a mouse for example, it is very important to make sure that your website can be used via keyboard functionality alone. While to many, the thought of not being able to use a mouse never crosses their mind, there are many than either do not have the motor skills to be able to use a mouse or cannot because of loss of limbs for example.

For more information on accessible website design, head to the W3.org website where you can find an outline of their standards for accessible website design.

Bio: Mark Ellaway is the owner of Bigfork, a Norwich web design company specialising in functional and accessible websites. They have their own CMS, helping website owners to manage their own sites without relying on a developer.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Mark_B_Ellaway/1084547

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