Updating your website to make it more accessible for people with visual impairments allows more users to enjoy your site. Although currently, websites aren’t legally obligated to meet any accessibility guidelines, it probably won’t be long until they are. There have already been instances where corporate websites have had lawsuits brought against them for failing to make their site accessible to the visually impaired. At the same time, legal requirements have already been enforced on government websites to meet certain guidelines. Therefore, updating your website to be accessible to the visually impaired will not only help you increase the amount of visitors to your site, if accessibility laws do get enforced on all websites, you’ll be ready for it.
There are four types of visual impairments you should consider when updating your site. They are color blindness, low vision, partial blindness and total blindness.
The first thing you want to do before updating your site to make it more accessible for people with visual impairments is to know what needs to be changed. There are many programs available to help you determine the accessibility of your website, such as WAVE, Check My Colours, Web Anywhere, and Cynthia Says.
WAVE is a great tool that will evaluate your website’s accessibility and won’t require you to read through a long and confusing report. Instead, it shows you what you need to update using your own page and indicates where things need to be changed.
Check My Colours allows you to view your color contrasts and determine whether they are suitable for a person with color blindness to differentiate between the parts of your page.
Web Anywhere is a non-visual browser that works like a screen reader. This will give you an idea of how well your site is viewable to people with partial or total blindness.
Cynthia Says checks to ensure that your web page meets Section 508 standards and Web Content Accessibility guidelines.
After checking your site’s accessibility, it’s time to make the necessary improvements. When updating your site, keep in mind the four types of visual impairments and make sure you’re adjusting it to suit the needs of all of your visitors.
Making your website more accessible for people with visual impairments:
- The most prevalent form of color blindness is referred to as red-green color blindness – so don’t use red and green together.
- Don’t just use only color to mark links, buttons, and important text – also use tools such as icons and underline.
- While working on updating your site, try desaturation. This will give you an idea about the level of contrast on your site and whether there is enough for the content to stand out.
- Use tools such as the Contrast Analyzer and the Colorblind Web Page Filter. Both of these will assist you in choosing the right colors for your site to make it more accessible for people with color blindness.
- Don’t embed text in your images. Screen magnifiers make most images blurry, so any text you put in them will also appear blurry. Instead, use Cascading Style Sheets or higher resolution images.
- Don’t use text that scrolls or flashes. Visitors that are using a screen magnifier have a hard time reading text that is moving around.
- Use borders, headings and other features to distinguish sections of your site. This makes it easier for those using screen magnifiers to navigate around it by helping them skip areas they aren’t interested in and finding the parts they are.
- Put your most important content first, so visitors using screen magnifiers know right away if they want to keep reading. This is also a good way to engage the interest of all your readers.
Partial and Total Blindness
- Validate your HTML code so alternate browsers such as screen readers can interpret it correctly.
- Be sure to use alt and title tags so visitors using screen readers can appreciate the images, because screen readers will use the tags to translate the image into words.
- Using fewer images will speed up the loading time on your site and make it more accessible to visitors with visual impairments. Cutting your loading time down will also make the viewing experience for all visitors easier and more enjoyable.
- Make sure that your source code is in the right order so screen readers can read the content correctly.
Updating your site to make it more accessible to the visually impaired is a great opportunity to increase the traffic of your site and will contribute to making the internet a more user-friendly place for everyone.