You’ve done it! You’ve finally got your website up and running, and business is booming!
Your site is visually stunning – you have awesome pictures and graphics galore.
That video you commissioned about your corporate culture is a true work of art, so you have it set to autoplay as soon as people land on your page.
You want people to know what you’re all about, and your site knocks it out of the park!
Now you just have to maintain the site, and let the business keep coming in, right? Why mess with perfection?
Bad News… Your Website May Not be Accessible
What?!? What do you mean it’s not accessible? It has the most intuitive navigation you have ever encountered? What more could it possibly need?
That may well be true – for the majority of people, your site probably functions perfectly. But there is a sizable minority you have overlooked – the disabled.
According to the Center for Disease Control, a full 26% of the U.S. adult population – 61 million adults – suffer from some form of disability.
If your business relies on international business, the number continues to grow. A full 15% of the world population – over 1.15 billion people – are disabled.
Not all of these disabilities will affect how potential customers interact with your website. But by not ensuring your website is accessible, you are cutting yourself off from a significant customer base.
More importantly, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has driven home the fact that web accessibility is enforceable under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so your inaccessible website may be opening you up to a lawsuit.
Don’t Worry, Website Accessibility is Easier Than You Think
The best time to consider accessibility is while you are designing the site, but it is not too late!
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a wonderful resource that will help you make your site ADA compliant.
Not only does it offer numerous success criteria to maximize your accessibility, but it often provides sample HTML to get you on the right track.
It is a long document though, and there are a few simple steps that you can take immediately to improve your compliance while you digest the rest of the WCAG.
Let’s take a look at the most common accessibility issues, and how to fix them.
Add Alt Text to all Pictures and Images
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for the 8.1 million Americans with vision impairment, they are a source of constant frustration.
These Americans often have to rely on screen readers – software that allows them to navigate on a computer or mobile device without a mouse, and reads the information on the screen to them.
Here’s the catch… there are a lot of things on your site that aren’t screen reader-friendly.
You know that beautiful graphic you have on your main page that lists your product features? Chances are that text is part of the image… which means the screen reader can’t see that it’s there.
That beautiful picture of your team performing community service? A screen reader won’t know how to process that. In fact, the screen reader will probably read the images URL – not helpful at best.
Go ahead and test it – if you have an Apple device, you can easily turn on VoiceOver, iOS’s built-in screen reader, and try to navigate your site. Try doing it with your eyes closed… can you really get a sense for your site like that?
There is a quick fix though – adding Alt Text to all of your images and pictures. Alt Text is effectively a caption for the picture built into the code.
The average user will never see it, but a screen reader will pick up on it and read it to the user.
Be as descriptive as possible – your visually impaired customers will thank you! They want to appreciate your amazing website too!
Close Caption Your Videos
Remember that amazing video you put up on your site? The narration of your company values may be truly inspiring, but none of the 7.6 million Americans with hearing impairment can appreciate it.
Likewise, any purely audio files on your site should have a transcript attached.
As a bonus, you’ll earn the undying gratitude of everyone that wants to watch your video without sound because they’re in public and forgot their headphones.
That is just good manners after all…
Turn Off Autoplay on Your Videos
Speaking of your video, you should probably not have it autoplay when customers visit the site.
I know, your video is a true work of art. For someone with epilepsy, though, it may trigger a seizure.
Epilepsy is often induced by rapidly flashing images, and all those awesome graphics flying across your screen may be enough to affect them.
Display your video prominently, but don’t make it autoplay.
You should probably make sure it can be easily turned off by keyboard commands too.
Make Your Site Keyboard Friendly
Remember how customers using a screen reader only use their keyboard to navigate their site?
They aren’t the only ones. Almost 20 million Americans have a disability that could hinder their ability to use a mouse and keyboard.
Web navigation is still possible though using Tab navigation – a feature that allows keyboard users to tap the Tab key to move through elements of your site, and the Enter key to activate buttons and links.
The best news is that this feature is automatically enabled for most modern browsers, so you might not need to do anything at all.
You might want to double-check though, some developers disable this feature in CSS when building a site because of how it works with the code.
If you haven’t turned it off, you are probably fine already. But it can’t hurt to be sure, can it?
Use Headers and Titles Effectively
Headers and titles are your best friends. They make your content more readable to everyone, and effective use of them boosts your site’s SEO.
But they are absolutely critical to people using screen readers and tab navigation.
Customers using these methods rely on headers to be able to effectively navigate your site. They allow users to navigate between sections of your page far more easily.
Without headers, people using screen readers would need to listen to the entire page being narrated to them, just to find that piece of information they actually need.
That seems like it would be pretty annoying, and we can all agree that annoyed customers are not good for business.
So let’s just use headers effectively, it makes everyone happier!
Fix Your Accessibility Issues Easily
You’re now well on your way toward making your website ADA compliant and, more importantly, accessible to all your potential customers!
There is always more to do though, and our experts here at Adally can help so you can focus on your business.
Sign up for our FREE homepage accessibility scan, and we will audit your homepage and give you a report to get you started!
You can also install our FREE accessibility widget to your site, no coding required! This amazing tool adds easy visual tools to help them navigate their site, no matter their disability.
Need a more in-depth solution? Talk to one of our consultants today! 1-877-786-4269