Website accessibility is all about making your site user-friendly for anyone who visits it. While there doubtlessly are many people who use the web in the ‘old-fashioned way,’ there are others who, for various reasons, do things a little (or very) differently. Don’t let common accessibility issues make it difficult for them to use, or exclude them from your site.
The good news is that the most common website accessibility issues don’t need to cost a fortune or take forever to sort out.
Use these 10 ways to find and fix them.
Table of Contents
Too Many Links For Navigation
Having too many navigation links at the top of your website can be an accessibility issue for visitors who use a screen reader or similar assistive device. The reason for this is that the device cannot reach the main content without reading or clicking through each of those links.
Include a Skip Navigation link at the start of the menu to fix the issue. When the visitor selects the link, their device will take them to the beginning of the actual content, or another anchor point on the page. Alternatively, use sub navigations or search bars.
Ambiguous Or Confusing Form Controls
Form controls that are ambiguous or confusing are another website accessibility issue for screen readers or other assistive devices. For example, date selection tools can be difficult for devices to express in a way that makes sense to the user.
Run a few tests using a screen reader or other device on your site and then make the necessary adjustments to the problematic form controls. Sometimes fixing the issue as simple as a different choice of words.
Text Under Low Color Contrast
Low color contrast on text was the most common issue on 85% of the top 1,000,000 homepages analyzed programmatically by WebAIM. This is a website accessibility issue as visitors with color blindness or low vision may struggle to read the text.
If your site has text under low color contrast, fix it by changing the theme to one with a better contrast, which you can use by using a tool for testing accessibility, such as a contrast checker. If the low contrast on text is a problem in one area only, you or a web designer should be able to fix it with ease. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, standard text should have a minimum contrast of 4:5:1.
Purchasing forms and other forms that require personal or otherwise sensitive data on sites usually expire after a set time. This happens for security reasons, and the time period is usually based on how long it would take the average traditional site visitor to complete and submit the form.
Fix the issue by making it possible for users with screen readers or other devices to receive notification that the form or session is about to expire, and to extend the form’s time limit as required.
Empty Form Labels
If you have a form or forms on your site, check that they are free from issues such as empty form labels. The labels let visitors know what information to input into the different fields. If those labels display as pre-filled text within the fields, assistive devices might not be able to read them.
Check all forms on your website to make sure that the labels and inputs are understandable and that they’re readable by assistive devices.
Some people with disabilities cannot use a mouse or trackpad, but can use a keyboard. Not being able to navigate your site or move through the various sections on a page using the tab key is an accessibility issue.
Check that users move logically from the top of the page when they press the tab key. The most logical tab-through order would be to move from the address bar to the menus, through form fields, across links, and to other content.
Ambiguous Or Unclear Link Text
Ambiguous or unclear link text, such as stand-alone links that simply read “More Info” or “Click Here,” can be confusing for visitors with visual impairments. The confusion or uncertainty this generates would translate into a low click-through rate.
Use short, informative texts for hyperlinks within written content and stand-alone links on other parts of the pages.
Images With Missing Alt Text
Missing alternative (alt) text on images was another common website accessibility issue reported in the WebAIM study mentioned above. 68% of the sites surveyed featured images that had no alt text, which can make it difficult for visitors who use assistive technology.
Check that the non-decorative images on your site have alt text. Do a quick redesign to add alt text in if there isn’t any. You don’t need to worry about purely decorative images, as screen readers can ignore these.
Links With Missing Text
If some hyperlinks on your site are represented by images, buttons, or other symbols only, they may pose accessibility issues for screen readers. These assistive devices might ‘read’ the icon, but they will not interpret it as a link.
Fix the issue by adding alt text for the link to the image, by replacing the image with hyperlinked text, or by adding hyperlinked text above, below, or next to the image.
A Lack Of Media Control
Little to no media control is a major accessibility issue on websites that auto-play videos or animations. It can be disruptive for players who use assistive devices. But they’re not the only ones who don’t appreciate being unable to control on-site media, or to do so with difficulty.
Ensure that visitors can pause or close videos or animations on your website quickly and easily, regardless of whether they’re on a mobile device, touch screen laptop, or desktop computer.
Website Accessibility Issues – It’s The Small Things
Most of the website accessibility issues mentioned above are small, quick fixes. Most of those issues exist because they’re easy to overlook when designing a site for most users. However, as you can see, none of the fixes would disrupt the design.
Let’s work at making those finer details part of the norm of site design so that we all offer accessible, inclusive designs from the start.
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