There is an internationally recognised standard for website accessibility, the WCAG 2.1.
In the accessibility standard, there are three different levels of accessibility. The classes are in the order A, AA and AAA, with Level A being the least accessible and AAA the most.
The UK government has committed to making all its websites meet the Level AA standard. Most disabilities can use your website with this standard and is considered the appropriate level for most to aspire to. However, due to the high costs of the Level AAA criteria, several adjustments are viewed as unreasonable by some companies.
With this in mind, here are the top 5 Level AA changes you can make to your website:
Making your contrast accessible means having an appropriate scale for your text compared to your background and a distinct colour difference. This assists those that have a low level of vision or suffer from colour deficiencies.
The larger the text or character stroke, the lower the contrast has to be. This is because this text is naturally easier to read, regardless of the contrast. The size at which you don’t have to consider contrast is 18-point text or 14-point bold text.
This standard involves providing captions for all live audio content and media on your site. Captions have the benefit of making your media content accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
They should not be confused with subtitles, which only provide the speech directly from the media. Captions describe essential sounds along with the speech. The captions must show up in real-time with the audio. As such, you cannot have a block of text alongside your media, as the audience member would not know what text corresponds to what part of the video.
Achieving this standard is possible through a manual inputting of the content. However, there are now several useful software that automatically generates text.
3. Multiple Avenues
Some users can find various ways of navigating the page more difficult or less understandable than others. By providing multiple avenues for your audience to locate content on your website, you are making those pages more accessible.
Those with visual impairments may find it challenging to use a navigation bar, especially if they have to magnify their screen to do so. A simple search bar provides greater accessibility to those users.
Having several web pages between the homepage and a landing page can be inaccessible to those with cognitive disabilities. Having a table of contents or a navigable sitemap prevents this issue.
4. Consistent Navigation
Having significantly different layouts in different sections of the website makes it confusing for some users. In turn, they may not know how to return to their previous page or reach their desired content, increasing your bounce rate.
Providing consistent and repeated content assists those with intellectual disabilities to use spatial memory and visual cues to understand navigation. Additionally, such an adaptation improves UX for all users.
5. Status Messages
When a user is navigating or using a tool on your site, their interaction may provoke changes. There must be a status message to notify the user of any changes to content, errors or the progress of a process.
The status message must also fit in with screen reader programs to achieve the Level AA accessibility standard.
Furthermore, having a disabled employee could assist and provide you with real-time feedback on the accessibility of your site. For more information, on all of the benefits of employing a disabled person, funding available and more, visit our dedicated guide.