Commentaries

5 Common Accessibility No-Nos

By Christine Lekatz on September 13, 2018

Making sure your website is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards is becoming increasingly important. While there are many factors to consider, the following are some of the most common mistakes we see on websites.

1. Inconsistent use of headings

Headings and subheadings can create great structure that is easy for users using screen readers to navigate. However, you can create confusion if you don’t use headings consistently throughout your site, if the headings don’t correspond to the content beneath, or if you skip heading levels (e.g., go from a Heading 2 to a Heading 3).

2. Using generic language for links and buttons

Screen reader users often will scan for links to get to information more quickly. If links have generic labels such as “learn more” or “click here” the user may not be able to find the information they want. Make sure your links give a good description of where the link will lead the user.

3. No text alternatives for audio, video, images and PDFs

Images, video, and audio are great ways to jazz up content on your site, but you need to provide text fallbacks. For images, you need alternative text that describes the image or contains the text within the image. For audio, you need to provide transcripts, and for video, you need to provide either transcripts or closed captioning. PDFs can cause trouble if you scanned in a PDF and put it on your website. Scanned PDFs need to be processed with optical character recognition (OCR) so that the text can be searchable and readable by a screen reader. Doing these benefits everyone – blind users and seeing users alike – and even search engines like Google!

4. Text that looks great, but is difficult to read

Creating subtle differences with text and other visual elements can make designs more compelling, but that can make the text difficult to read, especially with certain displays or eyes. Make sure there is enough contrast between foreground text and background colors and images so that users can read the text. WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 has specific standards for color contrast: 4.5:1 for smaller text and 3:1 for larger text. There are many helpful tools for determining this, such as one by Jonathan Snook (link https://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html).

5. Designing for the average user

It’s tempting to design for someone like you, but we encourage clients to design for the extremes: the person with arthritic hands who doesn’t have fine motor skills; the person who is learning English and needs simple language to understand the content; the person who is color blind and can’t differentiate between red and green. Designing for the extremes makes experiences better for the average user too.

At Neuger, we practice universal design where we create websites for people regardless of their ability or disability. And we believe doing this makes experiences better for everyone. We check our work against the WCAG 2.1 standard, but we also recommend consulting a lawyer to make sure you are complying with ADA standards. If you have questions about making your website more accessible, contact us today at info@neuger.com.

About Christine

A skilled social media strategist, thoughtful writer and trained journalist, Christine works with clients in an array of industries to tell effective stories critical to their success. She has a keen nose for news and has a proven track record for establishing meaningful relationships with members of the media. Extremely organized, she is also highly motivated to advance clients’ projects in a strategic, timely and efficient manner. Learn More About Christine »

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