Due to the increased pressure from advocacy groups and potential litigation, websites for disabled persons have become a hot topic in the world of web development. One in five Americans have some kind of disability, and having websites that accommodate certain disabilities do wonders for helping them live their day to day lives. The internet has become essential to living a productive life and managing the daily tasks that come with it – it’s only fair to make sure as many people as possible can access it. With this in mind, here are a few things you can do to make your website disabled friendly.
Design for Screen Reader Tools
For those with visual ailments (either extremely limited or without vision) one of the most useful tools for navigating the internet is a screen reader tool. These things work by taking in all the text on the screen and reading it aloud to the user. Most smartphone models have some form of screen reading capability and there is similar software available on desktop set ups. Since it reads everything, there are some rules you must take into account when designing websites for disabled persons.
First, use alt-tags frequently! If you have important, prominent images on your website it’s a good idea to assign alternative attributes (alt-tags) to each image to communicate what the image is and define its purpose. Another important practice: punctuation. Screen reader tools read everything that is on the webpage, so making sure things are grammatically correct ensures that there are no hiccups. Putting a simple “.” Between acronyms (N.B.A. as opposed to NBA) will stop the reader from saying the word phonetically. Lastly, don’t be afraid to utilize larger text as those with limited visual acuity will be able to read the page much easier.
Accommodate for the Hearing Impaired
A website can mostly function without utilizing sound, depending on the nature of the site, but there are still occasions where there needs to adjustments for the deaf or hard of hearing. Websites for disabled persons always need to have a means of reaching out to the business beyond a phone number. Having an email contact or inquiry submission page is essential as it allows for the hearing impaired to communicate without the need of an interpreter for phone calls.
Video is another area in which some adjustments should be made. Subtitles and transcripts go a long way toward making video accessible for the hearing impaired and simplifying descriptive text (with good spacing) makes it easier on the eyes when reading. Content in simple English that gets to the point creates for an efficient website overall, and something very much appreciated by the hearing impaired.
Be Mindful of Space and Layout
Users with physical or motor disabilities often are still able to use a mouse and keyboard, but can have a difficult time with small icons or unwieldy layouts. Websites for disabled persons are not often sprawling with so much to do, but easy to navigate and visually simple. Icon grouping can result in accidental clicks and user frustration, so spread your necessary icons but keep them easy to access. Long, extended forms and brief time out windows are also a big no-no.
Large, clickable icons are the best option for navigation purposes. Making your website navigable through keyboard as well as mouse is another way to make it more accessible. Spaces between fields reduce frustration and overall make it much easier to distinguish between what should be clicked and what can be clicked. Making your website mobile optimized is another big boost as navigating a desktop site on a mobile platform can be uncomfortable. Websites for disabled persons often adhere to these principles and avoid the flashy layouts for something more simple and straightforward, a good design choice overall.
More than a billion people on this earth have some form of disability. Laws are continuously being put in place to require some form of accommodation for these users on websites of all types. It’s better to be safe and proactive about this, as letting it slip could cost you in either legal action or lost business. Remember to keep things simple, helpful, specific and to the point. There are lots of users out there surfing websites for disabled persons that want to see your content, so don’t lock them out. It’s the best thing and, most importantly, the right thing.
Promotion LA does its best to adhere to these standards and beyond. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for a dose of inspiration and the latest updates. If you want a website designed for your business, reach out to us today!