Everyone should have an equal ability to use software and websites. Developers can make digital applications more accessible by removing the barriers that can prevent those with disabilities from using or accessing them.
Barriers to accessibility
Understanding the barriers that may make software or a website inaccessible to someone, will allow you to look for ways to remove them.
Vision – Impaired ability to read or view what is displayed on the device’s screen. This includes colour blindness and poor vision, which may require sensible fonts and colour schemes or even a screen reading option if necessary.
Hearing – This includes anyone who has hearing issues and need visual aids for audial content, such as videos with transcripts.
Motor skills – It’s important to consider those with physical impairments, who may not be able to make the required movements on a keyboard or mouse which an application requires. Help by making your key stokes simple. E.g. by pressing ‘tab’ it will take your cursor to the next logical text box.
Cognitive – Those with impairments such as dyslexia or memory loss may require information to be displayed clearly and in multiple ways e.g. video, text (in plain English) and screen readers. It also helps to minimise distractions and make the application as standard as possible to make it familiar.
Tips to improve accessibility
There are a number of things you can do to help make your software or website more accessible.
- Keep messages as clear as possible, with few distractions.
- Give all content space and ensure all media is clear for all to view.
- Add alt tags to images to give more information to those who cannot view it well.
- Consider using subtitles, transcripts or sign language in video.
- The ARIA technical specification allows greater context for screen readers and general clarity of interface components. Ask your development team if they adhere to these standards. It’s helpful to website users, but also viewed favourably by search engines for SEO.
Accessibility checking tools
If you are unsure how accessible your website is, there a few things you can do and tools available that could help to test it.
- Use your software or website and look for anything obvious that needs addressing, such as words that are difficult to read because they are the wrong colour, size or font.
- Get those with specialist knowledge of the subject, such as senior designers or developers, to test the site and feedback.
- Test the site with a focus groups of your actual users – the more diverse the users the better. You want to ensure that those with disabilities are included and can give feedback
- Use one of the many tools available that will audit your website for accessibility issues. For example, the WAVE evaluation tool includes information on contrasts, missing labels and tags and poor structures.
To help set a standard in this area, the Web Accessibility initiative created specific guidelines for developers to follow and the British Standards Institute created a Web Accessibility Code of Practise process guidelines.
Some developers may consider these a box-ticking exercise, so to ensure that your application is up to standard, it’s important to plan it from the start of the project with high priority and get it properly tested.
How can Alberon help
All the software and website solutions Alberon design and develop are created with the users in mind. Making sure they are easy to use and accessible to all is always a priority. If you’d like some advice, or would like us to take a look at your system, get in contact.