Someone with limited sight is on your website!
An estimated 2 million people live with sight loss in the UK alone. This impacts their daily life in many ways – but with technology, blind people are free to access the internet and browse as much as they like!
This blog post will set you straight about what site accessibility for blind people is, how to best implement accessible options, and how to check your website’s accessibility.
The importance of website accessibility
Website accessibility for blind people is one thing above all else – very important! The last thing you want is to exclude anyone from your website, but if blind people are missing out on key information by not being able to fully interact with your website, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
In order to have equal opportunities for all, you need to make sure your website is accessible. Consider who you’re trying to reach, what might help them do so, and the ways you can adjust your site to match this. Remember – accessible design improves user experience overall!
How do you improve website accessibility?
There are many different ways of improving site accessibility, so try to include as many as you can on your website! Here are the main ones:
These are software programmes that scan a page, and then either display the text as a braille display, or read the content aloud. If a website is not built properly, some of the content may be inaccessible for screen reader users, as the programme reads it out directly. One of the main issues is the lack of alternative text, which is a written description of an image: make sure all of your images contain alt text!
Many blind users prefer to use a keyboard instead of a mouse or trackpad, so make sure that keyboard shortcuts work for them. Anything to improve their experience, such as adding the up and down arrows as a way to navigate your page or the enter key to select an option is a good way to improve your site accessibility.
Headings and labels
Screen readers read out the whole page, so having headings means their users can skip directly to parts that interest them, instead of wasting time listening to things they don’t need. Along those lines, make sure you label controls like expand/collapse or volume up/down, to make sure they are noticeable to blind and sighted users.
The way in which readers usually navigate through headings is important to note too. Having the correct heading tags, (e.g. H1, H2, H3) is very important. Without them, people will struggle to use the website.
Feedback on commands
Let a user know that they are about to open a new tab, or need to fill out a form so they can prepare themselves. Commands should also be easily noticeable, in order to make their experience as smooth as possible.
Make sure your URLs and buttons are working properly also, as it can be very frustrating when an error appears, whether or not you’re using accessible technology.
Descriptions and language
Infographics and videos should have a transcript or a description of visual aspects that a blind person may not otherwise see, so they are not at risk of missing out.
Additionally, if you use a language different to a user’s default, the screen reader has no way of knowing and will attempt to pronounce things according to the default language rules. This is why you should declare any language changes within the website’s code, so that the screen reader doesn’t start belting out a jarring alien language as it butchers Spanish!
Check your website’s accessibility
Alright! Now we’ve got that sorted, all we need to do is check that everything is working correctly! Use SiteImprove’s Website Accessibility Checker to see if all of your changes have paid off! There are also many more ways of checking – some are on this handy list!
With that being said, the easiest way of checking your website for accessibility is to ask disabled users. Not only is it likely they will have assistive technology to hand and also be accustomed to using it, but they will have the most experience and be able to tell you which bits of your site you’ll need to tweak.
That was all about web accessibility for the blind – key aspects you’ll need to be aware of, changes to make and where to go to test them out. Keep in mind that being as inclusive as possible will also expand your brand’s reach!