Who Needs Web Accessibility? How to Make Accessible Websites?

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I was hospitalised for a while last year. I often browsed the web or checked email when I was bored (It’s ok to use the internet in my hospital). But sometime it was hard because I couldn’t use my hands well. Then I noticed how the web accessibility is important for everyone. This article will help you get started improving your website to remove accessibility barriers and avoid adding new barriers.

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility is about removing barriers so that people with disabilities or old people can use and contribute to the web. Making the Web accessible can dramatically improve people’s lives and benefit society as a whole. It is often mixed up with usability, but there is a bit difference. Accessibility makes your website to use, usability means designing your website to be effective and useful.

Who Needs Web Accessibility

Visual


People with severe visual impairments or blindness use screenreader software to read the contents of the screen out as audio instead. Screenreader users browse in the same way as anyone else does. It is difficult. A screen reader reads everything, including URL or symbols. VoiceOver function is pre-installed on Mac OS so please try it and feel how difficult it is.

Colorblind
To know about colour blind, read article in a website of We are Colorblind. This website is built by a colour blind person and he showed many examples.

Blurry vision and Tunnel vision
Also you have to remember there are people with blurry vision who need to increase font and image size to be able to read the page, and people with tunnel vision and good eyesight who make fonts and images small so that he can see more at a time.

Tips to Make It Better

  • Be sure images have an alt attribute
  • Make your content and background have sufficient contrast
  • Add under line to all text linksDo not use symbols (i.e. Change from “1/31/2013” to “January 1st, 2013″, ” * ” to “Note”)
  • Page title should be easy to understand and short text
  • Flexible font size
  • When you use table tag, make sure to use summary attribute to describe it
  • Contents should be displayed even CSS and JavaScript are disabled

Hearing

Deaf users are often able to access the Internet in much the same way as able-bodied people, with one key exception – audio content. Captions are text describing sound in video or audio, such as people speaking and other important sounds. Captions are also beneficial for people in a noisy environment who cannot hear audio, as well as for people in a very quiet environment where it is not appropriate to play audio.

TEDの字幕
You’ll see captions on YouTube or TED.

Tips to Make It Better

  • Add captions to videos
  • Disable auto-play sounds

Motor

Some people can’t use their arms or hands to type or move a mouse. Using a traditional mouse and keyboard is difficult, or even sometimes impossible and use a range of assistive technologies. When I was in a hospital, I normally use only keyboard.


This is a new technology which is called GT3D. This registers the movement of the eyes to control the mouse cursor on a computer screen. Read “GT3D Eye Tracker Makes Life Easier for Physically Impaired Users” for more information.

Tips to Make It Better

  • Avoid long page – not to scroll a lot
  • Make your website to control by only keyboard
  • Increase the size of sliceable area
  • Open link page in the same window (tab)

Language

IKEA

Photo: jronaldlee

Have you made IKEA furnitures? IKEA provides very simple instructions like an image above. It explains how to make your furnitures by only illustrations. This will help people who speak other language a lot.

Tips to Make It Better

  • Explain with photos or illustrations
  • Use easy words

Low-Bandwidth Connections

Some aspects of web accessibility benefit people with low-bandwidth connections. Some older technologies load pages very slowly and don’t support new features. These issues are common in some developing countries and areas of developed countries.

Text descriptions of images should be added for people who turn off images to speed download and for devices or software that don’t display images.

Tips to Make It Better

  • Make the size of files and images smaller
  • Be sure images have an alt attribute
  • Write file size for downloadable file

Let’s Try It

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are provided by W3C. But before jumping into guidelines, before studying evaluation tool results, first understand the issues. Lean the basics of how people with disabilities use the web.

NVDA is one of the most popular screen reader softwares. Mac OS provides VoiceOver function. Read “Apple – Accessibility – Vision” about VoiceOver.

Accessibility is often left for the end of web projects. At the end, it costs more and is burdensome and frustrating. If you had done it right from the start, it would have taken almost no effort, to go back and fix it will take significant effort. Incorporating accessibility from the beginning of a website development or redesign process is significantly easier, more effective, and less expensive than waiting until the end of a project. I can’t say this website is accessible. I will make it better little by little.

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