Shopify is one of the leading e-commerce platforms. As a Shopify store owner, it's vital that you take steps to ensure that your website is accessible to all visitors, including those with special needs or limitations. Let’s see how its accessibility themes stack up and learn practical tips to make your Shopify website more accessible.
Shopify’s Commitment to Accessibility
The company states on their accessibility policy page, "We believe in making our technology available to everyone, and are committed to creating an accessible and inclusive experience for all." To make the platform accessible, Shopify follows the WCAG 2.1 level AA standards and regularly tests the site for accessibility issues. Shopify also provides resources for merchants to improve their website's accessibility including best practices for creating accessible themes, and a guide on how to test for accessibility issues.
Shopify Feature Accessibility: A Closer Look
Keyboard Navigation Support: Shopify websites can be navigated entirely through keyboard commands, ensuring that users with motor disabilities can easily interact with the site.
Alternative Text for Images: Merchants can add alternative text descriptions to images on their website, allowing visually impaired users to understand the content of the image using screen readers.
Color Contrast Optimization: The merchant websites also come with tools and resources to ensure that site design and content meets WCAG 2.1 AA color contrast requirements, making it easier for users with low vision or color blindness to navigate the site.
ARIA Labeling: ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) is a set of attributes that can be added to HTML elements to make them more accessible for users with disabilities, particularly those who use assistive technologies such as screen readers. Shopify uses ARIA labeling to ensure that screen readers can understand the different elements on the site, like navigation menus and form fields.
Video Captions and Transcripts: Merchants can add captions and transcripts to videos on their website, making it accessible to users with hearing impairment.
Text Resizing: Users can also easily adjust the size of the text to make it more comfortable to read by using their browser's built-in zoom feature.
VoiceOver and TalkBack Support: Shopify's mobile app has built-in support for VoiceOver (iOS) and TalkBack (Android) screen readers, allowing visually impaired users to navigate the app.
Dynamic Type Support: This feature allows users to adjust the font size of the text displayed on the app to fit their accessibility needs. It’s available on iOS and iPadOS and can be accessed through the user's device settings. Once enabled, users can adjust the font size of the text on the app by using the device's text size slider.
Contrast Optimization: The app's interface has been optimized for color contrast, making it easier for users with low vision or color blindness to use the app.
Button Labels: All buttons in the app have clear and descriptive labels, making it easier for users with cognitive or learning disabilities to navigate the app.
Web Accessibility Tools Available Through the Shopify App Store
Shopify's App Store provides merchants with a plethora of accessibility tools they can incorporate into their websites to make them more inclusive for users with disabilities. Some of the popular tools are:
Accessibly: A Shopify app that helps business owners improve the accessibility of their online store. It provides automated accessibility testing, fixes for common issues, and ongoing monitoring to ensure that the website remains all-user-friendly.
Accessibility Enabler: A comprehensive tool for improving website accessibility that includes features such as alt text generation, color contrast checks, and screen reader compatibility checks.
AudioEye: A web accessibility platform that provides users with a suite of tools to improve their website's accessibility, including keyboard navigation, alternative text generation, and screen reader compatibility.
Accessible360: A tool that scans websites for accessibility issues and provides detailed reports on how to fix them.
UserWay: A website widget that provides features such as font resizing, color contrast adjustments, and text-to-speech capabilities.
A11y: A web accessibility audit tool that identifies and helps fix accessibility issues on Shopify websites.
Equidox: A tool to automatically convert PDF files into accessible HTML or WCAG 2.0-compliant PDF files.
Silktide: An online scanner that scans eCommerce websites for issues related to accessibility, SEO, and more.
Essential Accessibility: A suite of accessibility tools, including keyboard navigation, voice recognition, reading support, adjustable text size, and more.
Tips to Make Your Shopify Store More Accessible
As a business owner, it's important to make sure that your Shopify store is accessible to people with impairments of all kinds. By following these tips, you can ensure that everyone has a positive experience when visiting your site.
Use Alt Text for Images: Use descriptive text for all pictures on your website so that visually impaired users can understand the context of the image through assistive technologies, i.e., screen readers. While the Shopify website and mobile app don’t have in-built screen readers, they are compatible with various third-party readers such as VoiceOver (for iOS devices), TalkBack (for Android devices), and JAWS (for Windows desktop).
Provide Straightforward Descriptions: Make sure all product descriptions, titles, and other important information is clear and easy to understand, even for those with cognitive disabilities. For example, if you’re selling a T-shirt on your Shopify store, instead of saying, “Made from a cotton-polyester blend with moisture-wicking technology," you could say "Our T-shirt is comfortable, breathable, and keeps you dry."
Offer Multiple Payment Options: People with disabilities may face challenges in using traditional payment methods. By providing a variety of payment options such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, you can make it easier for them to make purchases on your site.
Make Forms Easy To Fill Out: Ensure that all the forms on your website/app are easy to complete, with clear instructions and labels for each field. You should also make sure that the forms are accessible for people who use screen readers.
Use Clear and Simple Language: Avoid using complicated or technical jargon. Use easy to understand language to ensure that all visitors to your website can understand the content.
Make Your Website Keyboard-Accessible: Your website should be easy to navigate using only a keyboard, as many assistive technologies rely on keyboard navigation.
Ensure Your Website is Compatible with Screen Readers: Make sure that your online store can be read by screen readers and is fully compatible with them. This includes proper labeling of images, links, and form fields.
Provide Captions and Transcripts for Multimedia Content: Provide captions for videos and transcripts for audio files to ensure that all visitors can understand the content.
Test Your Website For Accessibility: Use accessibility tools to test your website for potential accessibility issues and make the necessary adjustments to improve the user experience for people with disabilities.
Use Shopify to Create a More Inclusive Shopping Experience for All
Accessibility is an essential aspect of any website or mobile app, especially if you want everyone to be able to use and benefit from it. By prioritizing inclusivity and implementing accessibility features, your business can open its digital doors to a wider audience and improve the overall user experience. By following the tips shared in this post, you can make your Shopify website more user-friendly for all.