Web accessibility is an important issue because millions of people have disabilities that prevent them from using the World Wide Web, according to the folks at accessiBe. For example, some people are blinded by disease, some lose their hearing, and others suffer from learning disabilities.
Even though the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) started in 1994, it wasn’t until December 5, 2008, that web accessibility became a legal requirement in the United States with the passing of Section 508. Similar legislation initiatives worldwide provide strong motivation for making information on the web-accessible.
What are some common web accessibility issues?
- Color Blindness or Color Vision Deficiencies (CVD): Less than 1% of the male population is born with total color blindness. The most common form is red-green color blindness which occurs in 8% of males and 0.5% to 0.75% of females. CVD also includes reduced ability to discriminate between colors, leading to difficulties distinguishing objects with similar coloration.
- Blindness: Blindness can be caused by either damage to the eye or brain, such as stroke, traumatic injury, and progressive neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is a common effect of aging. There are several other causes, including genetics and repeated exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time.
How can businesses make their websites accessible?
There are several ways to make the content on a website more accessible. The first and most important is to use structured semantic markup such as HTML5.
Another method is to use colors that work well with different types of color blindness. For example, if you choose green for your links, you should also provide an alternate text label such as “link” for those who cannot see the color green. This will make it possible for people with CVD to distinguish links from surrounding text and identify them as links.
The final technique is to create a custom style sheet that adds “skip navigation” and “main content on first screen” attributes to skip navigation links and skip link text: <a href=”#maincontent” title=”Skip to main content”>Skip to main content</a>.
How can you test your website for accessibility?
You can use several tools to test your website for accessibility. The first one is the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool provided by WebAIM. In addition, several HTML validators check pages for compliance with W3C standards, which includes checking for semantic markup.
How can you fix any accessibility issues on your website?
If there are any accessibility issues on your website, the easiest way to fix them is with a WYSIWYG editor. For example, if you have links without an HTML title attribute, simply click on the link and add the appropriate value.
You can also use open-source web page editors such as NVU or Amaya to fix problems. The only issue with this method is that you may not know the missing or improperly formatted markup. For example, you might find that your headings aren’t properly structured; however, since you don’t know which HTML element is used for headings on your website, it will be difficult to determine where the problem is without looking at the source code.