Of course, creating an inviting web site has a lot to do with designing an attractive layout, writing engaging copy, and ensuring it is easy to navigate. In building the most user-friendly web site, however, many organizations overlook the needs of users with disabilities. You can further your message--and your image--by paying attention to the needs of all your web site's users.
Many users with disabilities use assistive technology to help the surf the web. Blind users, for example, often have screen readers or Braille readers, while those with low vision might use screen magnifiers. Users with certain physical disabilities have options, too, such as keyguards to help prevent pressing the wrong keys, and trackballs that enable them to move the mouse pointer without use of a mouse.
To make sure a web site is accessible, consider following some of the guidelines recommended by the Nielson Norman Group's report Beyond Alt Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users with Disabilities.
- Test your site with screen magnifiers to ensure that it works.
- Choose clear graphics for your design.
- Use ALT text to describe graphics in concise terms that convey the image to readers who can not view it. Consider using the LONGDES attribute for more in-depth descriptions.
- Allow users to skip multimedia demonstrations.
- Rollover text and cascading menus will make the site more complicated for users with disabilities.
- Don't use extremely small text or graphics/buttons as links, as they will be harder to click.
- Underline links to help them stand out for what they are.
- Collect only the information you really need when asking users to fill out forms.
- Include instructions for filling out a field before the box rather than after it.
- Make sure your background and text color contrast.
The Nielson Norman Group's report has many more useful suggestions based upon their own research involving users with disabilities. Following their guidelines can help an organization ensure that it can reach the widest audience possible. Research shows that making a site accessible to users with disabilities improves how well those without disabilities interact with the site, too.Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013