Creating an Inclusive Online Environment: How to Meet Visual Accessibility Standards

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Creating an inclusive online space is really important for making sure all users, regardless of their abilities, can access and navigate your website. Part of this process includes meeting visual accessibility standards. By following a few best practices, you can be sure your website is fully accessible to users with visual impairments, including those who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind. It also helps those who may not have a visual impairment like those listed above but are struggling with a headache, for example.

Meeting visual accessibility standards is important for several reasons

  1. Legal compliance: In many countries, there are laws and regulations that require websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. For example, in the United States, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites, and in the European Union, the Web Accessibility Directive requires member states to make their websites and mobile apps more accessible.
  2. Inclusivity: Making your website accessible means that you are providing equal access to information and functionality for all users, regardless of their abilities. This is an important aspect of creating an inclusive and welcoming online environment.
  3. Improved user experience: By making your website more accessible to people with visual impairments, you can also improve the overall user experience for all users. For example, using proper color contrast can make the text on your website easier to read for everyone, not just for people with low vision.
  4. Increased reach: When your website is more accessible, it can be used by a wider range of people, including those with disabilities, older people, and people with low-end devices or slow internet connections.
  5. Better SEO: There are some direct and indirect benefits of making website more accessible from SEO point of view. By making your website more accessible, you’ll likely to reduce bounce rate, increase the time on site, and as a result, increase your website’s rankings in search engines.

Meeting visual accessibility standards, should include the following strategies

  1. Use proper color contrast: Make sure that the text and background colors have enough contrast to be easily read by people with low vision. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
  2. Provide alternative text for images: Alt text (short for “alternative text”) is used to describe the content of images on a website to assistive technology such as screen readers. This helps people who are blind or have low vision understand what the image is about.
  3. Use proper headings: Use headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to organize the content on your website. This helps people who use assistive technology to navigate the page more easily.
  4. Make sure all the functionality is available through a keyboard: people who use assistive technology such as screen readers or voice recognition software, or who can’t use a mouse, rely on keyboard navigation to interact with websites.
  5. Provide captions or subtitles on any video content.
  6. Test your website with different browsers and assistive technologies to catch any issues you may have missed.
  7. Lastly, it is important to keep yourself updated with WCAG as it keeps getting updated regularly and it is the widely accepted standard for website accessibility.

Note that this is not an exhaustive list and there can be other considerations depending on the complexity of the website, but this gives you a good starting point.

Next Steps

What are you doing to make sure your website is accessible for those who may be visually impaired. If this is something you need support with, let’s chat.