A website should be accessible for everyone, including people with disability or those with expensive internet bandwidth. Luckily, there are ways to make your website up to par with everyone’s requirement:
Check the images for alt texts:
Place the cursor over any image, especially informational ones. A yellow box should appear with an accurate, brief textual description. Some people may disable images on their browser to save bandwidth cost and alt texts are the only thing they’ll see. However, you don’t need to add alt texts on decorative images, as they serve no purpose.
When the yellow box doesn’t appear, these are two probable reasons:
- The alt text has null value, which means on browser with disabled image, it will be ignored. This is a common scenario.
- The alt text isn’t set at all, which means the browser knows that the alt text is available, but can’t find it.
Use the site with the speaker turned off:
If you use audio and video in you site, you should test it with the speaker turned off. Some Internet users may want to use the computer without the sound turned on, for example when they’re in office, while obviously, a deaf person won’t be able to hear anything from your site. Make sure the site is fully usable and can convey its messages, without using the sound.
Check the forms:
Three main components of a form are prompt text, fields, and the “submit” button. Common prompt texts, especially in blogs, are name, email and comments. Each one is located to a field where users fill in the information or comment. Your form is fully accessible if the field has a flashing cursor when you click the corresponding text prompt.
Check if the text is resizable:
You should be able to adjust the font size in any browser. Does the text size on the site can increase or decrease in size? If not, then your site may not accessible to those with poor visibility.
Open your site with Lynx:
Lynx is a popular text-based browser with very limited features. You should make sure that your site is still accessible at its barest condition. You can search the Google for Lynx Viewer. This is the ultimate method to test your site for textual accessibility.
Don’t use the mouse:
Some users may have broken mouse or trackpad, so make sure your site is accessible with just tab, return and shift-tab.
Make sure you have an easy-to-use site map:
Site map is important to help new visitors to navigate your site and find the desired information quickly. If visitors are hopelessly lost in your site, it is quite likely they won’t return.
Make sure link texts/buttons are intuitive and predictable:
The “search” link text/button should be located at the right or below the search field. Home link text should be located at left of your top navigation. Intuitive design will not only help vision impaired users who can only use the Tab key; they can also make things easier for normal users.
Use automated software:
Wave (www.wave.webaim.org) and Bobby (bobby.watchfire.com) are two free programs that can help to check things that go wrong on your site. They may not be able to provide all the required information as some check should be done by human, but at least it is a good start.