When it comes to disability inclusion in the workplace, ensuring website accessibility is a critical step for employers. If people with disabilities are unable to access your website, it is likely that you’re missing out on potential job candidates and may even have trouble retaining employees with disabilities.
In short, web accessibility simply means making your website available to as many people as possible. When sites are designed correctly, all users, including people with disabilities, will have equal access to information and functionality.
Here are some key tips to ensure your website is accessible:
- Ensure Keyboard Compatibility – Any website deemed accessible must be usable without a mouse. Many assistive technologies function by keyboard navigations. This means that a website’s major functions, including menu pages, links, and other content should be accessible by using the Tab key and other keystrokes. For more on keyboard compatibility, see this Web Accessibility Initiative video.
- Ensure Screen Reader Compatibility – Many people with disabilities, including those who are blind/low vision or who have learning disabilities, use screen readers when navigating the web. Screen readers convert digital text to speech, allowing users to hear content and navigate with a keyboard. Screen readers work best when web pages are detailed and organized, including having navigational components such as headers, sub-headers, and lists.
- Include Alternatives for Images and Videos – Alternative text should be added to all significant images on your website, as this is important for those who are unable to see web images. The “ALT attributes” provide descriptive text that’s visible to screen readers and is displayed in the place of an image if the image file is unable to load.It is also important to ensure all videos on your website have closed captioning, and that text transcripts are included beneath all video-only and audio-only files.
- Consider Color Contrast and Scalable Text – The colors used on your website should contrast well so that users can distinguish between the various elements on each page. Text should stand out from backgrounds, and darker colors should be set against lighter ones. This Color Contrast Checker is a great tool to help you assess your website’s color combinations. Users should also be able to resize text up to 200% without any loss of functionality.
- Clearly Label Forms – Web-based forms should be designed for compatibility with assistive technology, such as screen readers. This means including clear labels for form fields, including checkboxes, data fields, and buttons. Labels should also be placed directly adjacent to the corresponding field to ensure screen reader compatibility. Here’s more on Designing Accessible Web Forms.
- Avoid Excessive Animation and Automatic Media – Many websites use moving content, such as animations, videos and pop-ups to connect with users. These can be problematic for people with disabilities, including those with processing or cognitive disabilities, or those using screen readers. A general rule for website accessibility is to refrain from including elements that begin without giving the user the ability to pause, stop, or hide them.
- Create Easy-to-Read Content – When considering website accessibility, content is key. Including simple language and giving attention to detail, such as writing out acronyms or clearly describing links within pages, helps users with various disabilities navigate your site. This is especially helpful those with intellectual and learning disabilities.
- Refrain from Including Time Limits – Often websites include countdown timers to employ urgency as a sales tactic. This can pose problems for people with disabilities, including those who require longer timeframes to process information, or who use assistive technology to navigate websites. Unless necessary, there should be no time constraints on website access. If web pages do need time restrictions, users should be able to turn off or adjust the time limits.
Ensuring your website is accessible is critical to creating an inclusive workplace. For more on how to address digital accessibility, read The Viscardi Center’s 5-Step Digital Accessibility Playbook.