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How Do I Make My Website More Accessible To Users With Disabilities?

It’s always nice to reminisce and get nostalgic by looking back at how simple life was before the internet was invented. If you wanted information, you had to visit the library and borrow a book or two or learn more about the subjects you are interested in. If you want to watch a movie at home, there’s always a video rental shop down the street with a wide collection of classics and new releases. Looking for a job? The newspapers have classified ads for anyone needing employment.

Fast forward to today, and all the examples mentioned above can be done with just one click on the internet. The internet has launched a completely digital age that finds new ways to use technology to make life easier every day. Without the internet and its innovations, the world wouldn’t be as progressive and efficient as it currently is.

Keeping the importance of the internet today in mind, think about how much losing access to it can affect your daily life. You won’t be able to use your computer for research or your smartphone for entertainment. Even having just limited access to the internet can significantly alter your social life by disconnecting you from the current trends and happenings.

Unfortunately, this situation is a reality for a large sector of society. The disabled population makes up about 20% of the total populace, and despite being a significant percentage of society, most companies fail to consider them when talking about internet accessibility.

To help correct this problem, the World Wide Web Organization (W3) established the WCAG 2.0 standard (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These guidelines require all businesses and companies to comply with particular standards of internet accessibility to ensure that people with disabilities will also be able to freely access the internet with optimal efficiency. The standard itself was designed to be comprehensive enough to include all disabilities that currently exist and to allow website developers to better understand the needs of disabled users.

Understanding various disabilities is essential so that website developers can make the necessary adjustments to address any online shortcomings. If you are a website designer looking to create the ideal online page for your company, here are a few tips to help improve access to some common disabilities.

For the Visually Impaired

The visually impaired sector is one of the largest sections of the disabled population. The usual solutions are advised to help them see the content on the internet better: bigger font size and a clear font style for better readability, increased media size, and adjusted arrangements in color and visual effects to make the content more comfortable to look at. Zoom options should be available so that the user can manually adjust the site settings to his or her level of comfort.

The visually impaired sector includes blind people, and even the largest font or the brightest colors won’t make much of a difference for them. To ensure that they can fully access a website, the site needs to utilize features that can dictate the text on the page, describe the pictures as posted, and guide the user in navigating through the site. Since blind people primarily rely on audio effects, it is important for the text dictations to be as accurate as possible to provide them with the best web user experience.

For People with Motor Disabilities

Motor disabilities include all physical limitations that prevent a person from being able to move or operate his (or her) body freely. These can range from conditions such as Parkinson’s and limb amputations to elbow injuries and hand fractures. People with motor disabilities usually have trouble using the mouse since they would have to alternate between clicking, holding, and dragging actions as they surf online. Typing on a keyboard is just as difficult because it requires a particular level of hand-eye coordination and finger agility.

Advanced computer hardware might be necessary to help people with motor disabilities freely access the internet. Mobile devices, for instance, have accessibility options to allow select actions to be done with minimal effort, such as using corneal detection for locking and unlocking the device. Certain shortcuts can be made on smartphones for easier site navigation, and there are also features that help users browse multiple pages by using just one finger to touch the screen. For people who have difficulty using a mouse, there are keyboard designs that can emulate all of the mouse’s functions by just pressing a few keys.

For People With Cognitive Disabilities and the Elderly

Cognitive disabilities might arise due to medical conditions such as stroke, dyslexia, dyscalculia, memory and attention problems, or old age. People suffering from this condition can have problems surfing the internet due to the overwhelming information being presented to them. They might have difficulty reading and understanding a website’s content due to its length or use of modern words, slang, and acronyms.

While websites can simply put a glossary section to explain word usage, it will require the user to visit the section every time an unfamiliar concept comes up, disrupting the reader’s concentration and possibly frustrating him (or her), making the entire experience with the internet unsatisfactory.

Ideally, developers can put a system in place that can provide the user assistance in understanding a particular word on the website as necessary. For instance, installing a web feature that can provide an easy one-click accessibility option to receive a translation, interpretation, or explanation for any expression, acronym, or word that the user may find new, vague, or unclear can work wonders for the user’s overall internet experience.

For People Suffering from Epilepsy

People with epilepsy can live a normal life provided they receive proper medical care and supervision. However, despite receiving medical treatment, there are still several triggers that can cause a sudden epileptic seizure or episode. Since the internet contains millions of media items, it’s impossible to completely screen which media content can get through while the user surfs different websites.

To lessen the chances of causing an epileptic attack, the website should allow the user to control all possible media content that might pop up before he (or she) visits the page. This way, the user can maintain a sense of control over the possible triggers in the website, allowing him (or her) to better prepare himself (or herself) to neutralize the triggers immediately.

A Final Word on Providing Website Accessibility for the Disabled

Making a website fully accessible for all kinds of disabilities can be challenging, but not impossible. The disabilities mentioned above only represent a fraction of the entire disabled population, and it can feel quite overwhelming for a website designer to think of ways to address all the accessibility needs for every kind of disability.

To show your customers how much you care about providing equal accessibility and at the same time protect your business against possible lawsuits, you can turn to Access-A-Pal for assistance. Access-A-Pal covers a wide range of disabilities including visual impairment, motor disabilities, cognitive disorders, blindness, and epileptic conditions.

Access-A-Pal is an expert when it comes to web accessibility, using advanced machine learning and computer vision technologies to improve your website and make sure it has 100% compliance with the ADA and WCAG guidelines. If you need help with improving accessibility options on your website, contact Access-A-Pal now for the best services imaginable.