It’s a common assumption that accessibility is only for people with disabilities. Though individuals with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities should always be kept in mind, an accessible web should be designed for, and benefit, everyone. People with or without disabilities. Web users and web developers. Keep in mind that peoples' needs and preferences are wildly diverse. An accessible web gives your users the flexibility to access digital materials in whatever way they need or want to.
Human beings are all different and diverse. Just as we celebrate the diversity of individuals in a cultural context, so should we design technologies that take diverse needs and preferences into account.
Accessible design is innovative design. The same design principles that make technologies accessible — semantic mark-up, intuitive information hierarchy, machine-readable text — are also principles that promote mobile design and a semantic web.
Technology has the potential to be a great equalizer — but inaccessible technology only further excludes people. Let’s embrace the potential of technology to let people be as independent, self-sufficient, and connected as possible.
Below you will find a list of some key principles of accessible design. Most accessibility principles can be implemented very easily and will not impact the overall “look and feel” of your web site.
Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content (such as pictures and images) in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of the website read to them.
Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page.
Tables are used online for layout and to organize data. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers (the
element). Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate and understand the data table.
Ensure that every form element (text field, checkbox, dropdown list, etc.) has a label and make sure that label is associated to the correct form element using the element. Also make sure the user can submit the form and recover from any errors, such as the failure to fill in all required fields.
Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like “click here” and “more” must be avoided.
Videos and live audio must have captions and a transcript. With archived audio, a transcription may be sufficient.
In addition to all of the other principles listed here, PDF documents and other non-HTML content must be as accessible as possible. If you cannot make it accessible, consider using HTML instead or, at the very least, provide an accessible alternative. PDF documents should also include a series of tags to make it more accessible. A tagged PDF file looks the same, but it is almost always more accessible to a person using a screen reader.
You should provide a method that allows users to skip navigation or other elements that repeat on every page. This is usually accomplished by providing a “Skip to Main Content,” or “Skip Navigation” link at the top of the page which jumps to the main content of the page.
The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.
There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Write clearly, use clear fonts, and use headings and lists appropriately.
Ensure that every page is fully-functional even when the stylesheets are disabled. HTML compliant and accessible pages are more robust and provide better search engine optimization. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allow you to separate content from presentation. This provides more flexibility and accessibility of your content.