When it comes to the online face of your business, it’s important to be accessible to every potential client within your demographic, including those with disabilities. You certainly don’t want to do anything that alienates a particular niche within that demographic yet many websites do just that inadvertently by failing to consider this niche audience.
While disabilities can run the gamut from physical to mental, there are primary types of disabilities you should consider when assessing and designing or redesigning your website – disabilities that are visual, auditory, cognitive or motor in nature. If you aren’t taking these types of disabilities into account when you design your website, you could unintentionally be making your website more difficult to use for those who fall within this demographic. The end result is that you shut yourself off from potential audience members and ultimately prospective clients.
An Easy-to-Use Website for the Visually Impaired
Since the core basis of the Internet is visual, you may assume that no one with a vision disability would be accessing your site at all; however, this is incorrect. Visual disabilities come in many varieties, including blurred vision, patchy vision and colorblindness.
While those with 20/20 vision see crisp, precise images, those with blurred or patchy vision may have trouble distinguishing letters and shapes. To help those with this type of disability, implement good contrast between foreground and background images or text on your site, thereby making it easier to read text and process images. Also, utilize font sizes that are large enough to read easily, even for those with less-than-perfect vision.
Colorblind individuals aren’t able to differentiate between colors, and often view distinctly different colors as merely slight variations of the same shade. Consider this when you design your website. Don’t just use color to differentiate between items; instead incorporate the use of symbols or words whenever possible.
Keep in mind that those with severe vision issues may use screen-reading software that audibly reads the text from your website to them. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your website is compatible for this type of software. Make sure your site’s heading are properly tagged, and keep links and headings as specific and helpful as possible.
Make Your Website Usable for Those With Auditory Disabilities
Since the majority of your website is visual, chances are it is pretty accessible for those with hearing disabilities. Do a quick review of your site to make sure that there are no features that can’t be used by those with hearing issues.
If your site features any video, add captions to it so those with hearing disabilities can enjoy the video in the same way as those with perfect hearing. If you aren’t able to add captions to your video, have a full transcript of the video available for those who desire to read it.
Accessibility for Those With Cognitive Disabilities
Individuals with cognitive disabilities are not able to process information as quickly or easily as others. Websites that are disorganized, cluttered or very busy are often difficult for those with cognitive impairment. While these sites are quite challenging for those with these disabilities, they are also not ideal for the general public. Aim to keep your site simple, clear and easily digestible.
Review your site’s pages and see if they are easy to understand and scan. If you find your eyes drifting around the page at the bevy of links, images and text, it’s likely to be an issue for those with cognitive disabilities. Avoid excessive animation and video to keep things straightforward. Also, avoid auto-playing video or audio as this can be overwhelming to those with cognitive impairment.
Make It Easy for Those With Physical Disabilities
Those with physical disabilities may not have full use of their hands and arms, making the use of a traditional keyboard and mouse laborious. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of devices available to help those with physical disabilities.
Since a specialized keyboard or mouse allows users the same functionality as a traditional one, you don’t have to consider too much when designing your site. You should, however, avoid putting clickable items too close together as this can be difficult for those using a foot mouse. Try to make all movement on the site easy to control via up/down, right/left or click movements.
Let Us Help You Make Your Site Accessible to Your Entire Prospective Audience
Here at DBurns Design, we can help you make your website accessible to your entire prospective audience, including those with disabilities. Whether you need to simplify your homepage or clean up your site’s video, our design and technology experts can help. Give us a call today to get started or to ask any questions you may have about the process.