When designing a website it’s important to make the site accessible for people with disabilities that may be unable to see or hear the content on your website. In recent years there have been an uptick in lawsuits concerning website features and accessibility, or the lack of it. If a major feature of the website isn’t accessible, it’s important to take the steps necessary so that it is fixed as quickly as possible.
What Website Accessibility Features Should I Be Concerned About?
When researching recent lawsuits over lack of website accessibility the general theme seems to be if there is an expected feature, it needs to work for everyone. For example, let’s take a look at a store website. If the website offers coupons, the designer must ensure that someone who is unable to read can use the coupons. If the coupons on the website are on a scanned page, then an individual using a screen reader is unable to read the coupons. However, this individual will know that there should be a coupon there due to the links and page titles.
One way of resolving this issue and making the website accessible is to split the one image into multiple images. Next, add an alt tag to each image that describes the coupon itself. If you don’t want coupon images, you could create the coupon with written out text and style the text however you’d like. By writing the coupon text out, the screen reader is able to read the coupon.
What About Third-Party Items on my Website?
A third-party item is an item on your website that is provided by a separate party, this could be photos, embedded YouTube videos, data, or more. You may be shocked to know that you can’t off-load this responsibility onto other parties. Believe it or not we’ve seen a case where a website had videos, hosted on YouTube, provided to them by a manufacturer, and the individual was still sued due to website inaccessibility. In this case the issue was that a deaf person went to the website to watch videos over the benefits of a specific product they sold, and they were unable to hear the video and there were no captions. At the end of the day if it’s on your website, you are responsible for the content.
Will Using a Third-Party Plugin or Widget Solve Website Accessibility Issues?
While using a third-party plugin or widget to solve website accessibility issues is often a good approach to find some or all the faults, you must read the third-party’s terms and agreements carefully. One service we reviewed, buried two clauses deep in their terms of service:
- Provided “AS-IS” without any warranties
- The maximum amount of liability is equal to the amount you paid for the third-party plugin.
- One third-party even went further to say that the only solution for any issue with their product was to cease use immediately.
How Do I Make Sure My Website is Accessible?
There are several steps you can take to be sure that your website is accessible for everyone. How do you do this? Consider downloading a program that features a screen reader. A popular screen reader is NVDA, which is also called NV Access. This screen reader will help you understand if a blind person is able to navigate your website properly. Some important things to consider are:
- Is your website able to be navigated using a keyboard?
- Do you have proper alt tags on your photos?
- Is the contrast ratio of your text readable if an individual is colorblind?
There are a few services, such as WAVE, Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, that can be used to evaluate the contrast ratio of text on your website. This service is also beneficial in helping you resolve any issues with this ratio that might be on your website.
It’s very important that you audit your website regularly. As you make changes be sure that it still has the necessary accessibility features. It’s also important to stay up to date on any lawsuits over accessibility issues. This will help you keep your website accessibility up to date and accessible for all of your users.
At Boarman and Jones, when we design your website we keep in mind the need for website accessibility and make sure to apply changes and updates to your website accessibility as needed. Get in touch with us today for a quote on a new website or a website update!