Building an Accessible Website

Crystal DeCnodderCalgary Marketing, Design Resources, Our Clients, Website Design & Development

"Your Site is Inaccessible" a frustrating sentence for website users and a scary one for web developers, hosts, and site owners.

Usually, a server error is to blame, maybe a spotty wi-fi connection. Reboot, and the problem is solved…for some.

For others, even the fastest and most stable domains, apps, and platforms are inaccessible by nature. People experiencing disabilities navigate a digital landscape that is actively working against them and their needs. With the realization that this demographic needs and wants to be online, and legislation in place to ensure they can be there, the time has come to rethink what accessible technology means and what it looks like.

Accessible Mobile Websites

Building Accessibility Into Digital Assets

1 in 5 Canadians over the age of 15 live with at least one disability that limits their daily activity – that equates to roughly 6.2 million people, or just over 20% of our population.

Many are already using the Internet and mobile technologies at a reduced capacity, and studies show that roughly 90% of web content has significant barriers to access. With more and more content being created and published than ever before and more and more businesses moving their primary functions online, it has never been more critical to create inclusive and accessible content for everyone.

It is also essential to recognize that this is a vastly underserved market with an estimated spending power of $47 billion.

Suppose you also include friends, relatives and caretakers of people with disabilities. In this case, spending power increases to $311 billion in Canada alone – hardly a 'niche market,' yet it's a market that brands and companies regularly overlook. Taking the necessary steps to be inclusive benefits everyone, including the brands and companies that initiate positive change. We all choose products and services based on our own needs and the needs of our loved ones. We are all inclined to share our experiences, good or bad, and this demographic is no exception. Accessibility in technology creates many crossover applications that can foster stronger brand connection, fuel innovation, and drive capital spending by connecting with consumers.
Girl looking a Accessible Website

This bill was created to ensure greater inclusion of all Canadians with disabilities and includes a focus on digital content, information and communications technologies, as well as the technologies used to access them. While it is still up to Canadian provinces to outline their accessibility mandates, many expect these regulations to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) closely. Considering the speed at which the digital landscape evolves, time is of the essence when it comes to implementing these mandates in order to effect change in both the short term and long term.

Simple Things To Make Your Content Accessible & More Comfortable to Enjoy:

Consider The Different Types Of Disabilities

When designing accessible digital assets, it is essential to consider the different types of disabilities individuals may experience, such as blindness and impaired vision, deafness or hearing loss, limitations to movement and speech, and neurological and cognitive limitations.

Make Content Easy To Follow

When creating content, simple things like using proper heading tags (H1, H2, H3), which follow a logical hierarchy, help individuals who use a screen reader or have a visual impairment, as does using a descriptive link when directing users to other websites or reference material.

Use lists, summary sections and bolded keywords while keeping your text aligned to the left is important for readers with cognitive disabilities, such as learning disabilities.

Videos & Images

When incorporating and designing visual elements, such as video and images, adding subtitles, transcripts and audio descriptions make it possible for those with hearing and vision impairments to enjoy your content.

Images should always include alt text that clearly describes the image rather than being loaded with SEO keywords. If you can close your eyes and have a clear picture of the image just from your alt text, you are on the right track.

Include Labels & Provide Instructions Within Forms

This will ensure that screen readers will be able to read each field's name and help users understand how to fill things out. Make sure any call to action on your site is similarly labelled and easily identifiable with buttons and links compatible with screen readers and keyboard navigation.

Search Engines Reward Accessibility Features

By using header tags, video transcriptions, image alt text and structured content, you can take advantage of a boost in SEO.

These features will also lead to an increase in customer growth through positive and inclusive user experience.

Search Engines Reward Accessibility Features

By using header tags, video transcriptions, image alt text and structured content, you can take advantage of a boost in SEO.

These features will also lead to an increase in customer growth through positive and inclusive user experience.

Accessibility 3rd Party Plugins

Handy 3rd party plug-ins for web building can provide quick and easy solutions that can be implemented in a cost-effective way.

Products like AccessiBe can be added and integrated into your website to increase accessibility for people with disabilities without impacting your other users. Individuals simply need to activate these tools via their main interface (or screen reader) when accessing a website. They offer many options that increase accessibility, such as text and screen readers, voice commands, and keyboard navigation. They also allow users to block blinking and flashing content and make adjustments to colour, contrast and content to make fonts, cursors, text and images easy to read, view and access.

Check out our latest accessible web build at supportedemployment.ca and simply click the blue icon located in the bottom right of the screen to interact with all the options available with AccessiBe.

While there is no 'one size fits all' answer to digital inclusion, the frequency with which new information, technologies and compliance guidelines are becoming available allows brands and companies to continue to research, expand and grow their répertoire. At Full Blast Creative, we are passionate about inclusion, online and in the workplace, and are proud to offer our clients custom solutions for accessibility.

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We would love to hear from you and keep the conversation going. Contact Full Blast Creative if you would like to discuss how to make your website more accessible.

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Author: Jessica Rodgers, Production Manager, Full Blast Creative