The advent of the Internet has turned the world of publishing away from the volumes of books in hardcopy to the simplicity of having e-books in a flash drive or in one’s android powered phone. Most people but not all enjoy the ease of accessibility and the speed offered by the Internet.
When it comes to launching a new web site, most people forget the individuals with disabilities. (Disabilities in this case are not as defined according to medical terms but any physical or mental limitation that affects use of the Internet.) Navigation of websites for them is different and they have to be aided by specialized devices such as voice recognition tools.
Whereas it is not possible to place enhanced features on one’s website to aid them, one can make their website user friendly to persons with disabilities to make their Internet experiences both enjoyable and enlightening.
Availability does not equate accessibility
Web designers undertake their task with the mindset of creating websites whose aim is to provide information to users. On the contrary, the high rankings and viewership means that the information is available. It does not indicate it accessibility. “How easy is it for users to gain the information once they find it?” should be the question on every designer’s mind.
The common limitations one has to consider when designing a website include and not exclusive to
- Color blindness
- Hearing impairment
- Low vision
- Repetitive stress injury
- Aging related complications
- Cognitive disabilities
The areas that one has to pay attention to relate to multimedia features, ease of navigation, comprehension of images and pictures, color display, and complex notation which are all addressed below:
8 Design tips
- Opt for descriptive text instead of short text links. Additional devices such as synthetic speech cannot use brief text with less than three words to turn into a page. Short yet descriptive text allows for easier navigation.
- Use the ALT attribute to provide alternative text for an image in the website. Visually challenged persons cannot of course view images as other temporarily able-bodied persons. Browsing for them is enables by either turning off the graphics or using a text-based browser. Use the attribute consistently for all photos and images.
- Use the ALT attribute also to provide alternative text for links that lead to large images and bulleted/numbered lists. If the alternative text turns out to be too lengthy, use a text anchor instead to create a complete text content. Use ALT= “D” which stands for descriptive text.
- Text anchors should also be employed to render objects within a webpage such as tables, image maps, graphs and charts. Additional software aiding disabled persons comprehends information by moving progressively from one line to the next. Objects with text within them yet are not images are not easily interpreted.
- The deaf cannot hear the sound from clips therefore if the website has multimedia features, give text transcriptions alternative to the clips to enable the deaf to comprehend the information provided. The easiest method is to use text anchors.
- Users with color blindness cannot distinguish colors easily. Therefore whereas an image with outstanding quality uploaded in JPEG is visible to most it is muddy to them. Their ability to distinguish different colors is not based on hues but rather on the lightness or darkness of a color.
Ensure you make light colors lighter and dark colors darker. To test the images change your screen to 256 shades of gray and check whether you can tell the difference in color based on their lightness or darkness. The colors to watch out for are red and green, blue and yellow. Also, do not use color differences only to give direction or description.
Give a text description. For instance in clothes shopping website do not state the following are images for the red items available instead place text underneath each image stating “a red and black pleated skirt” enabling the user to understand even if they cannot see.
- Avoid use of blinking ad buttons, continuous animation and flashing text. They frustrate users with cognitive disabilities. Even other users will get irritated.
- Frames are a design blunder. It is not advisable to use them as they inhibit proper navigation of a site by all users but make it extremely difficult for impaired ones. They impede page bookmarking, creating proper printouts and readability.
About the Author: Hi, I am Sandra and I am a web designer and blogger. I am currently working on MotoCMS Flash templates. I believe big websites should try and cater to all audience and must think about including disabled access from ground up.