Last week, we talked about ADA demand letters and what to do if you receive one (you can read about that here). As a follow up to that article, we wanted to touch on ways you can make your website more accessible.
Assistive Technology vs Accessible Technology
One thing most people are not aware of is that there is a difference between assistive and accessible technology. Assistive technology is developed specifically for people with diversabilities (diverse abilities). For example, screen readers give blind and low vision people the ability to access a website in the same way captioning allows deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to view a video transcript (sometimes in real-time).
These types of technology are critical for people with diversabilities. However, assistive technology can only do so much if it isn’t accessible. Accessible technology is developed with the needs of many people in mind but does not address any specific diversability. It works in tandem with assistive technology to make your website easy to use for most people.
Making Your Site Accessible
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3) gives four primary guidelines for making your website more accessible.
People with a wide range of diversabilities should be able to view everything on your website. Adding contrast, providing a simple alternative theme to your site, and including larger print options are all ways to make your website more perceivable.
Is it easy to navigate your website? Can you do it with just a keyboard? Are you able to easily get to the most important content? Asking yourself all these questions will help you get a better sense of how operable your website is. If your site is interactive, you should consider how long you give people to read and digest content. Your website should also be predictable with an easy flow to follow. Users often need to be able to get back to a previous page. Using a site tool called breadcrumbs can help with this.
All text should be easy to read and understand. A good rule of thumb is to write at an eighth-grade level. It is also a good idea to include a translation tool for your website, especially if you know that individuals who speak other languages are likely to use it.
This might be the most important guideline to follow. You want your accessibility features to be as robust as possible. Include assistive technology or design around it. Plan for the future of your website and make it scalable or easy to modify so you can keep up with changing technologies. The whole point behind creating an accessible website is to continue to be as inclusive as possible in the content that you deliver.
Get Help with Your Website’s Accessibility
To create an inclusive, accessible site, you need to work with an expert. Applied Development can help you create accessible messaging and content through our strategic communications services. We can also help you with ADA and 504/508 compliance for your entire company. You can learn more here or give us a call at 410.571.4016.