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How to Make Your Website Accessible for the Disabled

How to Make Your Website Accessible for the Disabled

Have you ever realized that a fifth of your target audience may have a disability preventing them from using your site effectively?

According to Census Bureau, 1 in 5 people in the United States is considered disabled to some extent.

Digital marketers tend to invest time in building customer personas to include all kinds of demographics (married, baby boomers, single, etc.), yet most marketing plans make no mention of this one-fifth of the US population with disabilities.

This has resulted in the recent wave of web-accessibility lawsuits and scandals in the United States, where web accessibility is regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

But creating an accessible website is not just about ADA compliance. It’s about creating an opportunity for a huge part of your potential customer base to purchase from you or to join your community.

Here’s how to make your website accessible:

1. Make Sure All Your Forms and CTAs Are Accessible

Online forms come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a simple contact form to college applications. Your site forms are your final conversion paths leading your readers down the sales funnel. Functional forms are essential for a conversion-focused user experience.

If a user has a disability and requires the use of assistive devices, the format and lack of appropriate labeling of the form can create a barrier.

  • All field labels should be properly labeled and easy to navigate.
  • Add clear and short instructions.
  • Buttons should be clear. For example, college scholarship forms or applications should be marked with “Submit Application,” rather than only “submit.”
  • Make sure your forms are fully keyboard-operable (try moving across fields using the TAB key).

Here’s a detailed guide on creating accessible forms.

2. Provide Text Explanations for Visual and Video Assets

Infographics have become a popular marketing tool in the last few years, but they have the drawback of making information inaccessible to some users. Those with visual disabilities may be using screen reader software, which relays information through auditory or Braille output, making it unable to “read” images on the page.

Because of this, it violates another of the W3C’s guidelines: making sure the content is perceivable. This can be remedied by including or linking to a text-only version with a detailed description of the image. You can use all kinds of visual aids to try and turn your infographic content into text-based content, including:

Taking care of the basics — image alt text — is another essential step here. Use SE Ranking to analyze your on-page images and get an idea of whether they are accessible and SEO-friendly. Once registered, use their Website Audit section to run an analysis:

SE Ranking image analysis

3. Use Logical Hyperlink Text That Provides Clear Instructions

Hyperlinks are what makes the world wide web an actual “web” — they connect sites together, making it possible to pass from one platform to another.

Hyperlinks are also essential for usability, allowing users easy access to related products and content.

With a click, the user can reach additional information related to your content. This can even be beneficial, sending users to your products or to other parts of your site.

Most screen reader software can jump from link to link, as a way to skim the text. Navigating can become really confusing if all you do is label your links with the standard “click here” or “more” tags.

Be descriptive when creating your links, and be sure to let your users know where your links will send them. This way, assistive technology users will know whether they want to click the link or keep interacting with your content.

Again, use site auditing tools like SE Ranking to double-check that your links are working and provide clear navigation instructions.

4. Overall, Write in a Clear Way

Creating clear and concise content is one of the most important aspects of web accessibility, allowing you to reach out to people with all kinds of disabilities:

  • Vision difficulty (your content should be easy to understand by listening to it aloud with assistive devices).
  • Cognitive difficulty (your content should be easy to focus on).
  • Learning difficulty (your content should be easy to understand).

Catering to all people with all kinds of difficulties means building a positive brand with a strong reputation. It also means letting all these people convert when they feel like interacting with your site.

Text Optimizer is a semantic analysis tool that includes a “content quality and clarity” audit feature. It will run through your content to suggest possible areas of improvement in terms of choice of words, sentence and paragraph length, diversity – yet clarity – of your vocabulary and more.

Text Optimizer readability

TextOptimizer example

Make sure your TextOptimizer score is 85% or higher.

5. Maintain Accessibility Across Platforms and Technologies

Clear and accessible content is only one part of the puzzle. Fundamentally, W3C guidelines emphasize that the concept of robustness of the site, i.e., making sure that your site can keep up with the changing technologies.

Every aspect of your website should have a purpose to increase understanding; otherwise, it needs to be removed. The principle of understanding should reach across all aspects of your content.

While the content accessibility is important, unless it can be accessed on mobile devices or with assistive technologies, it fails to meet the W3C guidelines.

All aspects of the website — from coding and choosing a theme to consistent website performance — should aim at making your site more usable and accessible. Frequent testing on different platforms can also make sure that things are running smoothly.

Fortunately, emerging technologies are there to help website owners to maintain and monitor accessibility standards. accessiBe uses artificial intelligence to automate and monitor your overall website accessibility so it is fully accessible through any site updates or technology changes:

accessibe

6. Test and Test Again

Finally, the most critical step is to keep testing. There are many more aspects to developing accessible web presence than content, but you cannot control everything.

Here’s an in-depth, DYI web accessibility testing guide that will walk you through the whole process of optimizing your site, including:

  • Proper site and page navigation.
  • Proper readouts (including buttons, links, menus and menu items, lists, tabs, etc.).
  • Proper popup handling.
  • Proper title hierarchy.
  • Proper image descriptions.
  • Proper form fields descriptions and validations.

You can also install accessiBe (mentioned above) to automate web accessibility optimization and testing. You don’t need any technical knowledge to install or use the tool.

Accessibility and usability are both essential for optimizing conversions. Making your site clear and understandable also will help search bots crawl it more efficiently and rank it higher, so your time spent on making your site accessible definitely will pay off.

Use the tips above to increase conversions while making your site accessible for a huge part of your target audience.

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