That is no longer a question.
In our current society, there is a greater focus on website accessibility. The federal government instituted the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and I would not be surprised if it wasn’t soon amended to include accessibility in the most ubiquitous marketplace of today, the internet. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility points out that “websites are considered a public accommodation because the goods and services offered on the site are being offered to the general public.” Because of this discrepancy in the current inaccessibility of many websites, web accessibility lawsuits are becoming more commonplace.
There are easy ways to stay ahead of these demand letters and they don’t always have to involve hiring a consulting firm or purchasing an expensive plugin. The following small actions can help you make your site more accessible:
Keep an eye on contrast.
Visitors to your site with visual impairments may have a hard time reading your content if the contrast is too low. There are minimum thresholds that need to be met to ensure enough variation between foreground and background colors. WebAIM offers a web-based contrast checker with an easy-to-use eye-dropper selector. It will let you know if the colors that you selected were able to meet the contrast ratio for either WCAG AA or AAA ratings.
Use alt text.
Potential clients that use screen readers likely cannot distinguish imagery on your site. If you are using an image to explain a process or otherwise present important information, that visitor will not be able to capture that. There is an accessibility workaround and that is to use alt text. Not only will alt text appear on hover, but it will also be read by a screen reader. Only use alt text if the image is something relevant to the website content. If the image is purely decorative simply leave the alt text field blank or mark it as decorative. Also, note that it is unnecessary to specify that the image is a picture in the alt text field as the screen reader will already note that.
Keep the action in call-to-action.
Also in consideration of those who use screen readers, it’s important to make the call to action buttons be meaningful. Simply stating “learn more” doesn’t provide any context. It is helpful, not just for the visually impaired, to give the button text purpose. Whether the button is placed as an image or coded into your HTML, you want to make sure that when someone or some technology reads it, they clearly know what action it will trigger. A better solution would be to have the button state “Learn more about our services” or something along those lines.
These are small considerations, but they will have a big impact on those who will need them the most. It is easy to take website understanding for granted when you aren’t differently-abled, but we should all be better about creating content for all, not just for the majority.
For more on my thoughts when it comes to making content that is accessible and equitable check out my previous post on adaptive ed-tech. Thank you for reading.