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Do It Yourself Accessibility Changes

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day in the web community. Gaining awareness of accessibility and the people that are affected helps to bring about changes in how we communicate better and understand disabilities. Today is a good day to cover how to improve your website, it's content, and how users with disabilities interact with it. If you're using a CMS of some kind you should be able to make some changes yourself.

Alt Text

The most common area that is overlooked is alternative (alt) text attributes on images. Alt text provides context for the subject matter of the image. Best practice with filling in alt text is to describe the primary subject of the photo. If the image is an illustration you will want to note that in the alt text. Entering anything that is relevant to the photo and is not just a blank area is a step in the right direction. Try to avoid adding the words "image", "photo", or "picture".

Reworking vague link text

A lot of times it seems like it is easier to just create a hyperlink for the words "click here", but it doesn't provide a lot of information for someone clicking the link. The hyperlink text should describe the destination where the visitor will arrive. If you have a sentence that reads, "We have a lot of strawberries for sale. Click here!" and you wanted to create a hyperlink to a sales page for strawberries you would want to create your hyperlink with the "strawberries for sale" text and then remove the "click here" text.

Adding titles to off-site hyperlinks

It's never fun to expect something to happen, but you're not sure what is going to happen. Clicking on links can feel this way at times if there's not a lot of context to your hyperlink. One method of providing that extra information is by rewording the hyperlinked text, but you should also provide a hyperlink title especially if your hyperlink takes your visitor away from your website. The title is an attribute that can be added when creating a hyperlink in most CMSs. If your hyperlink goes to Google you would add "Opens Google in a new window" to the title. Or if the hyperlink references a resource such as a PDF you could add "Downloads PDF document" to the title attribute.

Use effective heading hierarchy

Assistive technologies, such as screen readers, can browse your page by moving from heading to heading. If a heading is skipped such as skipping from a heading level 2 section to a heading level 4 section your visitor may have a hard time navigating your web page content. It's best to go in a logical order with your headings similarly to a table of contents in a book.

The above isn't a complete list of accessibility fixes, but it should make your website content more accessible. Are these changes important? Yes.You always want to give your website visitors the best possible user experience to build trust in your company and to encourage return visits.

Categories: Web Design