What is accessibility?
Developing an “accessible” website requires that all elements on the website can be accessed by anyone visiting your site. W3C director, Tim Berners-Lee, defines web accessibility as “access by everyone, regardless of disability.”
Disability CategoriesThere are 5 main disability categories. Understanding these categories will be helpful when developing your content:
- Cognitive Learning
- Visual (including blind, low vision, and color blind)
Four Principles of Accessibility
The W3C website provides an overview of the Four Principles of Accessibility. These guidelines provide tips and suggestions to follow when creating a website
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content. The easiest way to do this is using the “alt” tag.
- Provide captions, transcripts, and other alternatives for multimedia.
- Create content that can be presented in different ways without losing meaning.
- Use methods that will make it easier for users to see and hear web content.
- Create pages so all functionality is available from a keyboard.
- Give users plenty of time to read and use content.
- Do not use content that may trigger seizures. Avoid producing any content that violates spatial pattern thresholds.
- Provide ways for users to find content, navigate and determine where they are within the site.
- Make text content readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes. An example would be to hide any optional form fields.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
- Avoid using any technologies that are not accessibility-supported when the technology is turned of or not supported.
Quick Tips for Accessibility
These Quick Tips provide a brief summary of the Web design concepts that support accessibility standards. For full guidelines and examples check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- Images and animations: use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
- Image maps: use the client-side map and text for hotspots.
- Multimedia: provide captioning and transcripts for audio, and descriptions of video.
- Hypertext links: use the text that makes sense when read out of context.
- Graphs and charts: Summarize graphs, charts, and tables using the longdesc attribute.
- Scripts, applets and plug-ins: provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
- Tables: make line-by-line reading sensible. Be sure to summarize each table and use appropriate titles and descriptions.
- Check your work: use validation tools to make sure web content is accessible.