Making Accessibility More Achievable

Making Accessibility More Achievable
Posted on 06/29/2017
Making Accessibility More Achievable

Web accessibility is a must for any government website. A variety of laws in both the United States and Canada exist, outlining rules and guidelines that must be followed. Web accessibility is important for ensuring governments can connect with all of their constituents and vice versa. Accessibility goes far beyond the law though. Making your website accessible is the fair, just and equitable thing to do. Making your site accessible is also critical for increasing your website’s reach.


Web accessibility aims to minimize barriers related to visual, motor, auditory, and cognitive impairments, disabilities or exceptionalities. In the U.S., Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines general guidelines for some of these standards. The ADA, alongside the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) can be used as a general framework for developing great, accessible content. Below, we will outline some of the ways you can make your website more accessible.


Accompany Images, Videos, and Graphs with a Description

Users with visual impairments may not always be able to access content that is not in text form. Let’s say you decide to post a photo that was taken at a recent jazz festival in your city. A citizen with a visual impairment may be able to use text-to-speech programs to help process words, but images will be completely lost to them. Ensure that any non-text content has a descriptive tag attached to it, so text-to-speech programs can properly describe the images to your citizens.


Make Your Content Easy to “Manipulate” so Users Can Digest it in a Way that is Suitable for Them

Add a function that allows users to change the background and foreground colors so that they are easily distinguishable. Allowing users to change font and font size is also another way you can allow users to manipulate your site.


Make it Possible to Navigate Through Your Site by Keyboard Alone as Much as Possible

Many individuals with fine motor impairments may find it tough to use a mouse to access certain areas of your site (such as floating/moving menus). By increasing the amount of functionality your keyboard provides, you allow these groups of users to fully interact with your website.


Try to Avoid Scrolling and Changing Content Whenever Possible

Scrolling backgrounds and pictures are acceptable, but you should limit scrolling headers to only those two pieces of media. Web articles, newsletters, community updates, twitter feeds, etc., should not change or rotate. If you do have rotating content, provide some way to slow or even stop this process down (provide a back, or pause button).


Limit the Amount of Color You Feature on Your Website, or Offer a Colour-Blindness/Low Graphics Support Mode

The most common forms of colour blindness are called protanomaly and deuteranomaly, or “red-green colour blindness”. People living with this condition may have a hard time distinguishing between red, green, orange or brown. That isn’t to say that you cannot use these colors, but you should either have an option to change the color scheme or relegate bright greens and reds to parts of your website that will not be directly interacted with. You may not wish to make buttons or menus red or green, as they tend to blend in to the background.


When Creating Online Forms, Design them with Accessibility in Mind

You should make sure that forms can be navigated and filled in using a keyboard. Users should be able to hit “Tab” to move to the next field. Furthermore, all fields should be labelled and separated for exactly what they require. Instead of naming a field “contact details”, you should say phone number, email, address, depending on the circumstance. Finally, add some form of visual and auditory feedback to clue users in if a field is missing.


Provide Transcripts of Videos, Meetings and Hearings Whenever Possible

Ensure that transcripts, descriptive audio, or captions are available whenever possible, so that your citizens can digest your content in a way that is easiest for them.


Avoid “Clipart” Animations

Any animation that flashes, strobes or pulses should not be added on your site. While they can draw a user’s attention to your content, they may also inadvertently cause users with epilepsy or other seizure-inducing conditions to be triggered.


Maintain a Consistent “Feel” Across Pages within Your Website

This is where templates are particularly useful for ensuring consistency across your web pages. Design consistency is important so people can interact with your site in the same way no matter what subpage they are on. Menus, layout, and screen dimensions should be “sticky” through page navigation so when a user navigates to a new subpage, the structure of the site stays consistent.


Conclusion

This article is meant to give a brief overview of some ways in which you can make your site more accessible. Our list isn’t exhaustive—accessibility is a journey, not a destination! Keep working at adding additional functionality to make your site fully usable and compliant. At CivicLive, we know how important accessibility is and this is reflected in our websites.


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