Essential Tips for Making Websites Accessible

Slick web designs might impress the board, but what good does that do if your visitors can't see? Making your website accessible is extremely important for people with visual or physical hindrances. Tiny fonts and low-contrast colors might look good in practice, but they're useless if they can't be read or used to navigate your website. The upside to embracing accessibility is that your digital materials, be them websites, online courses or electronic documents, will be better used by everyone. Here are nine tips that make a more accessible website. [You can find an article about the importance of accessibility and helpful tools in the last issue of the newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter.]

Graphics

Make sure you use images, icons and other visual elements consistently and appropriately.

Text equivalents

If you you're using graphics, figures or illustrations, make sure you include a line of text or a longer description for people who can't see them.

Headings

Use H tags to organize and structure your content rather than using larger fonts and different colors. This is a helpful article on H tags and best practices.

Remember PDFs

PDF documents are often neglected in an accessibility review. Make sure they're accessible too.

Spell out abbreviations and acronyms

Screen readers have a hard time with acronyms – they think they're full words. Either spell them out or use coding to make them readable. Look at the acronym in the previous paragraph to see an example.

Use tables appropriately

Not everything should be in a table; many contain information that's more readable when they're simply written out. If you do use a table, make sure you're marking it up appropriately.

High contrast

When you use colors, make sure they stand out. I like to run websites through Vischeck to see how they display to people who are color blind.

Captions or scripts

If you're using video or audio, use closed captioning or provide a script for people to read along.

Use descriptive links

No more "click here." Use descriptive text around your hypertext.

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