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5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Website More Accessible

Posted on 02/08/2016 at 10:00 AM

Have you ever come across a missing page in an old book you were reading? It can be pretty disappointing. You might try to make do without it, but odds are, you’ll be a little confused and miss some essential information.

Now imagine trying to navigate a website as a person who is vision or hearing impaired. Image or video content is inaccessible to those who can't see or hear, and vague or redundant window titles or page headings can cause a lot of confusion for those relying on these attributes to scan and navigate pages and content.

In a previous post we talked about the growing number of lawsuits being directed at businesses whose websites do not make accommodations for the vision and hearing impaired. This month, we thought it appropriate to switch gears and provide you some actionable changes which you can make right now to move your website toward accessibility. 

Though cyber accessibility is a process, here are 5 things you can do to make your website more accessible today:

Add Alt Text to Images: 

Many times, textual content works better when supported with visual content. Visuals can really help demonstrate and support the message we are trying to get across. However, if your text content relies too heavily on imagery, people who are vision impaired will miss out on relevant information. 

To help provide the full context of an image heavy piece of content, be sure you include ‘Alt Text’ within the properties of your image. Many content management systems allow you to add alt text by simply right clicking your image while within your page editor and opening up image properties.

Upon doing so, you’ll usually see an option for ‘Alt Text’ or ‘Alternative Text.’ This is where you’ll provide a textual description of the image itself. Screen readers or brail translators can then process this content and present it to the vision or hearing impaired in a format they can digest.

Complete Your Window Titles:

To those who are vision or hearing impaired, navigating the many pages of a website can be a nightmare if clear page and window titles are not designated. Imagine navigating roads without any road signs; you are likely to get lost.

Window titles appear within your browser's tab. They serve not only to describe the contents of the page, but also to help the user quickly determine what page they are on within a website. If your webpages have redundant or vague titles, it can be nearly impossible for visitors who are vision or hearing impaired to easily navigate and locate the needed information on a website.

Most up-to-date content management systems, like SiteViz, will have a place for you to add or update window titles right within the page editor. 

Craft Helpful & Descriptive Link Anchor Text:

People relying on assistive technologies to access the web need to be able to understand where links within a webpage are pointing. This is why it is important to create descriptive link anchor text.

SiteViz makes it easy to customize the linking text so that it clearly describes the content that the link is pointing to. Simply create the link description in the text editor. Make sure it's descriptive, something like: 'Submit a maintenance request to schedule a repair.'

Next, highlight your descriptive anchor text and add a hyperlink for the URL of the linking page.

Transcribe Video Content:

If you plan on housing videos within your content, make sure you include a transcription so that the hearing impaired can understand what information is contained within the video.

If you are embedding your video from YouTube, you can use their transcription tool to generate a text version of your content.

If you are adding a video directly to your website, simply transcribe the video and include the transcription below the video itself.

Utilize Heading Tags:

Content hierarchy helps both users, and assistive technologies, understand the structure of a webpage. Utilize headings in a way that breaks up your content according to topics and subtopics. Assistive technologies, like screen readers, recognize headings and make it possible for users who are vision impaired to easily skim a page for a certain topic. 

SiteViz, like many other modern content management systems, has the ability to designate headings. Website administrators simply need to select the heading from the page editor and apply it to the appropriate text. 

Remember, Cyber Accessibility is a Process:

There is a lot to consider when making sure your website is accessible. Global Reach can provide guidance and assistance in order to bring your website up to 508WCAG and ADA Standards. If you need assistance making your website accessible, contact Global Reach today

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