We always assume that everyone has the privilege to use multiple senses to access and use websites.
But while building a website, designers must keep several factors in mind for users that may face difficulty in accessing a website in the traditional ways.
Such users often have to rely on assistive technology to access websites. A blind person has to rely on screen readers that convert the information on the screen into audio.
But people who are blind as well as hard of hearing use Braille readers to access websites. Several accessibility technologies help people with disabilities.
- The primary method of making a website accessible is to ensure that each element has a text-based equivalent. Most assistive technologies rely on the text on the website, as it is the easiest to read and translate.
- Keeping that in mind, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that can help designers and programmers build websites accessible by all.
- Most market leaders in web accessibility, such as accessiBe, rely on these guidelines to program their solutions.
- In a recent Entrepreneur.com interview with accessiBe, the CEO Shir Ekerling discusses in length the potential upsides for accessible websites and also the possible litigation exposure from inaccessible websites as well as an introduction for the WCAG and the ADA.
In this article, we’ve grouped a few user experience guidelines and their implications for web accessibility.
Colors That Present Information
- Web designers often use color to draw a user’s attention to specific information on a website. However, more than 13 million people in America suffer from color blindness.
- So several color-based UX designs can prove useless for people with color blindness. For example, designers often use form fields that feature a red outline to indicate an error.
- But to color blind people, red may look like a shade of gray and might match the outline of the rest of the fields. So the UX element will not achieve the desired result for them.
- Therefore to make an accessible website, color-based information must be accompanied by text-based indications as well. In the example used above, such fields must also feature visual indicators, such as an exclamation icon for an error message.
- The icon might not be enough by itself, so there should be a text-based indication for the visually impaired. But the translation of color based information is not as simple in other cases.
- Colors might get used along with shapes, sizes, and textures to represent data in charts and other indications.
- The designers must use color contrast and textual information to translate such complex information conveyed by colors.
Symbols and Icons
- These days designers rely a lot on using symbols and icons on the websites to enhance the UX.
- On most websites, there are symbols and icons used for home, search, maps, and many others.
- Graphical symbols are also useful to denote the progress or completion of a task on websites. They also get used on charts and tables to convey a lot of information to users.
- However, these symbols might not serve their purpose for the visually impaired or the color blind. Most assistive technologies cannot translate the meaning of images, including characters, icons, and graphs.
- Therefore the information conveyed by them must also get supported with text so that people who have visual disabilities can understand the meaning of the essential visual UX elements.
Visual Information in a Text
- A lot of times, designers forget some vital elements of web content accessibility. For example, the UX design on a website might read that users can find more information below.
- Unfortunately, accessibility technologies do not relay positions of the elements on a website.
- So a person with visual disabilities will not understand the area referred by the information.
- Therefore such directions must be complete with the name of the button that a user needs to click on to obtain more information.
- For example, if the text says, “click on the help button to get more information,” a screen reader can tell the user where to find more information.
- The key to creating a versatile UX design that can be accessed by everyone is to make sure that multiple senses can understand the information.
- There are several free testing tools available online that can tell a designer how accessible the website is.
- They must remember that the usability of a website is the foundation of a good UX design. Therefore, while designing a website, they must consider users of all kinds of abilities.
In addition, you can find more helpful resources at Tockhop.