Websites are an important component of any company or organization in today’s digital era. They function as a hub for knowledge, contact, and commerce. However, not everyone has the same level of access to the internet. When your website is not optimized for everyone’s accessibility, it can lead to a loss of substantial audience, and leaves a poor brand impression.
In this article, we take a dive into the significance of website accessibility and how to make sure your WordPress site is accessible.
Why is Web Accessibility Important?
The practice of developing websites that are useful and available to everyone, regardless of their skills or disabilities, is referred to as website accessibility. The aim is to build a web experience that is inclusive for everyone, including people with vision, auditory, cognitive, and physical impairments. WordPress accessibility calls for making a website that is easy to navigate, comprehend, and engage with, regardless of the user’s accessibility requirements.
One in every four people in the United States has a disability. This is a sizable part of the populace that must not be overlooked. Making your website available allows you to reach a larger population, including people with impairments who may become prospective clients/ customers.
Furthermore, open websites improve the user experience for all users, not just those with impairments. Captions on videos, for example, can be useful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but they can also be useful in noisy environments or for people who prefer to view videos without music. Hence, WordPress accessibility can serve a larger purpose, i.e., preventing any hinderance to your reader’s experience due to any physical, network-related, or environmental problem.
Now that we have established the importance of WordPress accessibility, here’s all you steps you should consider to make sure your website meets all key web accessibility standards:
1) Choose an Apt Theme
One of the first guidelines in ensuring website accessibility is to choose an accessible theme. A WordPress theme is a collection of files that determine how a website looks and feels, and it is important to choose a theme that is made with accessibility in mind. These themes come with a variety of in-built and quick steps that make it easier for you to optimize for web accessibility.
2) Use Heading Tags the Right Way
Heading tags are used to organize your website’s material. They help users in navigating and comprehending your website’s material. To make sure that your website is available, you must use heading tags properly. Use H1 tags for your page’s primary header and H2-H6 tags for subheadings. Skipping header levels should be avoided because it can confound users who depend on assistive technologies such as screen readers.
3) Add Alt Text for Images
Serving 2 purposes (SEO and web accessibility) in one go, alt texts are a no-brainer.
Images are an important component of any website, but they can be difficult to comprehend for people who have vision impairments. It is critical to include alternative writing with pictures. Screen readers can scan alternative text, which is a short description of the picture. It aids physically impaired users in comprehending the image’s substance. Besides, alt texts also aid your SEO score – you can implement focus and target keywords in your images’ description. Image SEO is a real thing!
4) Use Descriptive Link Texts
The clickable text that brings readers to another page or website is referred to as link text. To ensure that your website is accessible, you must use descriptive link language. Each button/ hyperlink should clearly indicate what content/ page it directs the user to. This will help in preventing confusions, irrelevant navigation, and a poor user experience. For example, if you have a CTA button that takes your reader to your contact us page, mention the purpose clearly, with phrases such as “Contact Us Here”.
As simple as this may sound, we’ve seen multiple website bypass this step, with poorly-defined buttons and links spread all across the website.
5) Ensure Color Contrast
Color contrast is critical for individuals with low vision. There should be a decent contrast between your text and background color. The WCAG suggests a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for big text.
6) Video Captions & Transcripts
Videos are an excellent way to involve viewers and deliver ideas and instructions in an engaging manner. That being said, you do not want your readers with hearing disabilities to miss out on any information. Hence, it is critical to include subtitles and transcripts in videos.
Captions/ subtitles is text that appears on the screen with the audio simultaneously. Transcripts are full-length textual versions of aural files.
PS: you’d love the SEO benefits here!
7) Provide Keyword Navigation
For people who cannot use a mouse or simply do not like using it, your website’s navigation should be fully accessible via keyboard. This also ensures that a broken mouse doesn’t prevent your reader from having a nice scrolling experience.
8) Use Descriptive Labels for Form Fields
When filling out a form, people with disabilities often rely on screen readers to navigate and understand the form fields. By using descriptive labels, you can make it easier for them to comprehend the purpose of each field.
9) Be Tech-Friendly
It is also essential to ensure that your website is compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers, magnifiers, and speech recognition software. You can test your website’s compatibility by using assistive technologies yourself or by hiring a professional tester.
10) Smooth Navigation
Another essential aspect of website accessibility is to make sure that your website is easy to navigate. This includes providing clear and concise menus, links, and buttons. Users should be able to find the information they need quickly and easily, regardless of their abilities. You can also provide a site map or a search bar to make navigation more accessible.
Finally, it is essential to regularly test and monitor your website for accessibility issues. This includes checking for broken links, missing alt text, and other common accessibility issues. You can use tools like WAVE or Axe to scan your website for accessibility issues.
Another valuable step that you can take is bringing in plugins that are designed for WordPress accessibility. These not only provide all important features in one go, but also provide you with accessibility scorings – so that you are always aware of any scope of improvement. Here’s an article you should check out: 9 Best WordPress Accessibility Plugins
In conclusion, website accessibility is essential for reaching a larger audience, improving user experience, and complying with the law. By following the guidelines mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your WordPress website meets accessibility standards and is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Remember to use an accessible theme, provide alternative text for images and videos, use descriptive labels for form fields, ensure keyboard navigation, and regularly test and monitor your website for accessibility issues. With these tips in mind, you can create an accessible website that benefits everyone.
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