12 Ways to Make a Website Accessible

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12 Ways to Make a Website Accessible

Posted February 20, 2024


Posted February 20, 2024

Accessibility symbol surrounded by icons with accessibility issues listed under them.
Accessibility symbol surrounded by icons with accessibility issues listed under them.

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Creating an accessible website helps you meet accessibility laws and regulations and create a more accessible, inclusive website. Learn how you can make your website more accessible by following the 12 strategies outlined in this article.

The web has become an integral part of our daily lives. We rely on it for information, communication, entertainment, and more. Yet, what would happen if you weren’t able to access the web? If text was in an unreadable font or your mouse suddenly stopped working and you couldn’t move around the page?

The reality is that for the majority of users with disabilities, much of the web is inaccessible. Font is unreadable by those with low vision. Web pages are difficult if not impossible to navigate with screen readers or with keyboard navigation. 

Even with the increased focus on website accessibility in recent years, much of the web remains inaccessible to the disabled community. According to a study from Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM), over 96% of the top one million homepages fail accessibility standards. Not only does this prevent users with disabilities from accessing digital content, but it also leaves brands open to legal ramifications.

Below, we’ll delve into 12 ways you can increase the accessibility of your site — a practice that benefits users with disabilities and your business.

Stylized web browser next to an accessibility icon and text that reads '12 ways to create a more accessible website'.

1. Understand Accessibility Laws and Guidelines

Before you can start making your website accessible, you need a basic understanding of accessibility laws and regulations. Understanding these guidelines can help you create a foundation for accessibility and promote inclusion across your website. Below is a breakdown of the major accessibility laws you should be aware of:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in places of public accommodation which includes online and digital spaces. Organizations need to create an ADA-compliant website to avoid legal issues and ensure inclusivity. 
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): WCAG provides a framework for making digital content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are considered as the international standard for accessibility with governments and courts using them as a reference in settling accessibility lawsuits. To be considered an accessible website, you’ll need to meet WCAG 2.2 Level AA standards.
  • Section 508: Section 508 is an amendment in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires federal agencies to ensure electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. 
  • EN 301 549: EN 301 549 is the European standard of accessibility requirements for information and communication technology. More simply, the act is similar to WCAG and applies to all public sectors within the European Union.
  • ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications): Also known as WAI-ARIA, ARIA is a set of roles, attributes, and properties that can be added to HTML code. The purpose of ARIA is to make web elements, such as menus or progress bars, more accessible for people with disabilities. 

2. Create an Accessibility Baseline for Your Website

An accessibility audit on your website gives you an idea of how accessible your current site is. For example, AudioEye’s Expert Audit tests your site against the latest WCAG guidelines and identifies accessibility issues or violations. Issues are shared in a detailed report, enabling you to prioritize which errors you want to fix first.

3. Include Alternative Text for Images

Alternative text (also known as alt text) provides a brief description of photos or images on your site. This ensures users with visual impairments, such as blindness or low vision, can comprehend what’s on a page. Alt text should be short, concise, and accurately describe the information in the image.

For more information on how to write good alt text, check out our post “Image Alt Text: What It Is and Why It Matters for Accessibility”.

4. Ensure Your Site is Keyboard Accessible

Individuals with some types of disabilities navigate the web exclusively through keyboard navigation. You’ll want to ensure these users can access all parts of your website simply by using the tab key. This may involve redesigning your site a bit to maximize keyboard accessibility.

5. Use Sufficient Color Contrast

For users with visual impairments such as color blindness, it can be difficult to distinguish between text and the page’s background. Sufficient color contrast ensures all information is visible and readable to users. WCAG recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for large text. A color contrast checker can help you meet these specifications.

Stylized web browser with accessibility errors highlighted throughout.

7. Create Accessible PDFs

Accessibility also extends to digital documents such as PDFs or Word documents. Creating accessible documents ensures they’re readable by those using screen readers, screen magnifiers, text-to-speech software, and other assistive technologies.

8. Include Captions for Videos

Including captions or subtitles for videos ensures users with auditory disabilities (including deafness or hard of hearing) can consume video content. While this feature is beneficial for the disabled community, it also ensures users with situational disabilities — like being in a noisy environment — can watch the video.

9. Provide Customizable Font

The right font improves the readability and legibility of your site; however, not all fonts are accessible to users with certain disabilities. Providing the ability to customize font and text size enables users to tailor their web experience to their specific needs.

10. Use the Right ARIA Roles

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) created a set of roles and attributes that can be added to HTML code to make them more accessible. They’re typically used to describe web elements such as menus, slider bars, or interactive images. Adding ARIA to these elements makes them more easily understood by assistive technologies.

11. Minimize the Use of Tables

While tables can be useful, they are more difficult for screen readers to navigate — especially if they’re poorly designed. Try to use tables sparingly — only when absolutely necessary — to ensure they don’t disrupt the user experience. While tables are often an easy default for designers, coming up with a different method of showing the same data often creates a more consumable experience for all users.

12. Create a Clear Navigation

Navigation is arguably one of the most important parts of an accessible website and mobile app. Put simply: if a user can't navigate your site, they can’t use it. Some best practices to follow for an accessible layout include:

  • Providing at least two ways to navigate content (i.e. navigation trees, table of contents, search fields, etc.)
  • Use headings and headers appropriately
  • Provide descriptive page titles
  • Allow users to bypass repetitive information such as headers, banners, or advertisements

How to Ensure Ongoing Accessibility Compliance

Maintaining accessibility compliance is not a one-time event. What many organizations fail to realize is that every time they perform a site update, add new content, implement a new functionality, or create a new mobile application, they introduce new accessibility issues. To maintain compliance, organizations need to not only find and fix errors, but also regularly monitor web pages for new issues. 

Your site is always changing, which means accessibility issues can be introduced at any time. By regularly monitoring your site and mobile apps, you decrease the likelihood of accessibility issues negatively impacting your customers. This also helps you to find and fix issues before they become a bigger problem — one that could result in legal action.

You may want to consider using a website accessibility checker to help with this as looking for accessibility issues on your own is a time-consuming, complex job. Take AudioEye for example. Our Active Monitoring regularly audits your site and flags accessibility issues. These issues are either fixed via our automated software or our Managed Custom Fixes that are overseen by our team of accessibility experts.

Stylized web browser with pop up of 'Top Automated Fixes' on the right hand size.

Make Your Website Accessible with AudioEye

Creating an accessible website is not just a legal requirement — it’s also an ethical one. Not only does it increase the usability and inclusivity of your site, it also creates a more user-friendly experience, resulting in more visitors, conversions, and increased revenue opportunities.

At Audio Eye, we provide a comprehensive suite of accessibility tools and services designed to enhance accessibility across your website, mobile applications, digital and multimedia content, and more. From our Automated Accessibility Platform that helps you deliver an accessible experience to our Developer Tools that help you maintain accessibility, AudioEye has everything you need to create an inclusive, accessible design. Plus, our seamless integration with your existing tech stack makes the path to accessibility even easier.

Want to see AudioEye in action? Schedule a demo today.

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