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Access the realm of Accessibility

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Picture this: You have a website, and you want every visitor, regardless of their capabilities, to seamlessly engage with your content, products, or services. Accessibility is the key to achieving this. It involves proactive measures to remove barriers and accommodate individuals with various disabilities, ensuring they can navigate, comprehend, and interact with your website effectively. Now what should you do to make it possible?

Welcome to your comprehensive guide to how to and why make your website accessible.

What does it mean to make your website accessible?

Making your website accessible involves implementing intentional measures to ensure that individuals with diverse disabilities or limitations can effectively navigate, comprehend, and interact with the content and features of your website. It means removing barriers and providing alternative ways for users with disabilities to access information and engage with your online platform

Why is accessibility important?

Well besides the fact it is required by law, it is generally a good idea to make your website accessible to as many people as possible. Visitors to your website may need help to be able to read vital information from your website to make a purchase, hire you, or fully understand the point of your article. So good accessibility will help people with disabilities by being able to take in all your site has to offer and help you by broadening your potential audience significantly. 

It is also important to note that many accessibility features coincide with good SEO (search engine optimization) practices. For instance, descriptive alt text for images not only helps visually impaired users but also assists search engines in understanding the content of images, potentially boosting your website's search rankings.

How do I ensure my website is accessible?

Nowadays we have a lot of technologies to make our lives easier when it comes to making our website accessible. Chrome even comes with some tools to help you with that, here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when you go over your website. You should go over these things whether you built a website on your own or if you hired someone to build it.

  1. Ensure there is sufficient contrast between the background and the text, if you are using Chrome, you can do it by pressing F12, then ctrl+shift+c on your keyboard, then hovering over a text, you should see something like this

    under accessibility you should see “contrast”, it should be at least over 4 but the higher the contrast the better.
  2. Ensure every image that conveys a message has an “alt text” (alternative text)  when you upload it to the website, especially if you have an image with something written that page readers can’t read as text.
    For instance, if you have an image containing text that a screen reader might not interpret, such as a handwritten note saying 'Welcome to Our Store,' it's important to include alt text that conveys the message of the image. In this case, the alt text could be 'Image: Handwritten note saying Welcome to Our Store.
  3. If your website has interactive elements, such as buttons, links, or dynamic content, ensure it’s clear what they do with text and what will happen if you press them. If it’s an icon or the text isn’t descriptive enough make sure it has an “ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications)” label that describes what the element does, for example, if you have a button represented as an icon that toggles a menu, you should make sure that this button has an ARIA label saying “menu toggle”.
  4. Make sure your website has a good accessibility plugin (here is the one we use here at Fast Depot Online), even if your fonts are large enough and readable, with high enough contrast, and stand to the best standards some people might still need extra options to make their experience a high quality one, and this plugin provides many of these options.
  5. Provide transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions for multimedia content, .
  6. Ensure your website has an accessibility statement, in this document, you should specify what steps you are taking to make your website accessible and what regulations you are following, it is also important to specify that even though you are taking steps some problems are yet to have technological solutions and that you might have yet to make a specific page accessible, make sure the people have contact information in this statement in case they want to inform you of extra steps you should or need to be taking.
    Accessibility is an ongoing process. Stay updated with evolving accessibility guidelines and technology to continuously improve your website's accessibility.
  7. Ensure that all functionality and interactive elements on your website can be accessed and used using only a keyboard. Users with mobility impairments may rely on keyboard navigation instead of a mouse.
  8. Make sure your website uses proper HTML markup and semantics to enhance the structure and readability of your content. Proper use of headings (<h1>, <h2>, etc.), lists, and other HTML elements can significantly improve accessibility.
  9. Ensure forms on your website are accessible by providing clear labels for form fields, using proper input types, and including helpful error messages. 
  10. Ensure that there is a clear visual indication of which element has the current focus. This helps users who navigate using a keyboard or other assistive technologies.

In conclusion,

Prioritizing website accessibility isn't just about compliance with legal requirements; it's about fostering inclusivity and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and engage with your online platform effectively. By embracing accessibility principles, you're opening doors to a broader audience and providing equal opportunities for all users to access information, services, and products on your website.

The steps outlined in this guide highlight essential practices to enhance website accessibility, from ensuring proper contrast and alt text for images to implementing keyboard navigation and providing clear instructions for interactive elements. Incorporating an accessibility plugin, offering multimedia alternatives like transcripts and captions, and maintaining an accessibility statement further demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity.

Remember, accessibility is not a one-time task but an ongoing commitment. Stay informed about evolving accessibility guidelines, technological advancements, and user feedback. Continuously improving your website's accessibility demonstrates a dedication to meeting the diverse needs of your audience, fostering a more welcoming and inclusive digital space for all. Investing in accessibility isn't just a legal or moral obligation; it's a strategic decision that enriches user experience, expands your audience reach, and ultimately benefits both your users and your brand.

*Please note that this information is not intended as legal advice. It is recommended to verify and comply with current local regulations regarding website accessibility. Consulting legal professionals or relevant authorities for specific legal guidance is advisable..*

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