Depending upon personal preference and ability, people may use various types of assistive technology to navigate the web. Assistive technology includes tools like screen readers, closed captioning, voice recognition software, and more as tools to help facilitate or manage an online experience.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has published guidance for state and local governments and businesses to follow to ensure web accessibility following parameters required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The DOJ is committed to enforcing website accessibility for people with disabilities. Businesses and entities have been sued for inaccessible websites in the following cases:
Title II Sample Cases
Title III Sample Cases
This adds an incentive to business owners — a business’s site should be accessible to attract customers and clients and avoid costly lawsuits.
Common trends seen in these lawsuits include barriers like:
Poor color contrast
The use of color alone to give information
Lack of text alternative text on images
No captions on videos
Inaccessible online forms,
Lack of keyboard navigation
By implementing the following, you ensure your website is following guidelines so all users can interact with your website to learn more about your services and products.
Always include alternative descriptive text
If you’re using images, it’s mandatory to include alt text. The alt text describes images to readers who are unable to see them. This text becomes a code that is readable by screen readers and other assistive technology for those who are blind, have other visual impairments or have physical or cognitive disabilities to understand images on a website to have a user-friendly experience.
Alt text should be simple, concise, and focused on conveying essential information.
Accessible customer service
Provide a barrier-free option for people to interact with your business. Here are some things you can do:
Have multiple contact options like live chat, phone, email, etc.
Make customer service options clear and easy to find.
Train customer service representatives and support agents accordingly to ensure they have the proper training to assist those with disabilities.
Have an accessible layout
Keep these design factors in mind:
Consider color contrast: The minimum recommended color contrast is 4.5 to 1. This is the ideal contrast between text and background color, which also considers those who are colorblind.
Easy to read text: Choose a ‘sans-serif’ font that doesn’t have too much flair (Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana are good options). Select size 12 or higher those with low vision who may need a larger font to be able to see.
Avoid relying on color to convey meaning: It’s common to use colors to separate information, but it shouldn’t be the only way you do this. Those who are blind, have low vision, or are color blind will not know you are using different colors, so they will miss out on its meaning.
Label links clearly: Use embedded links to direct readers to additional information or next steps. Instead of using vague language like “click here,” calls-to-action and phrases that let the reader know where the link goes provide more clarity. Good link text makes sense as an independent sentence or phrase.
Facilitate a customizable experience
By offering an alternative style sheet, users can enlarge font size, so it’s easy to read without breaking the page layout. For example, people with low vision often can’t read small text sizes — so they have to use specific font settings when browsing your website.
Blind and visually impaired users do not use a mouse to browse a site. Add a keyboard navigation option so users with Braille keyboards can easily navigate your site.
Use an accessibility checker
Software programs like Word have built-in accessibility-checking features that will flag any accessibility-related inconsistencies in your document with an explanation of the issues and how to fix them.
There are also color blind simulators and the option of first-hand feedback by asking users with different disabilities from your target audience to carry out tasks on your website and give user feedback.