Web Accessibility 101

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

Access to web sites is crucial, particularly during the current worldwide health situation. With the Web, you can connect with others and shop for essential items, among many other web services. It is truly remarkable how much shopping, knowledge and entertainment is available today through the Internet. In order for people with disabilities to utilize and benefit from online services, the web content must be accessible to them. In this article, I will discuss some basics of web site accessibility and provide resources for readers to acquire more knowledge.

 

One crucial aspect to navigate the Internet is links. When accessible, a link makes clear what it is. If created incorrectly, an unlabeled link can leave users scratching their head in bewilderment. Accessible links have a sufficient text label. An example of a site with accessible text links is my blog’s web platform

WordPress.

It is always clear to me what purpose links on WordPress serve. On the opposite side of the accessibility coin, a site with some inaccessible links belongs to

The American Domino Company.

Specifically, links under the Stay In Touch heading lack text labels. In the past, I have noticed inaccessible links to social media on other sites as well. I am simply using the Dominoes site to illustrate my point about the value of accessible links. I will now discuss headings.

 

Headings can help people navigate more quickly. Although headings have visual appeal, they can also help users with disabilities. Headings enable screen reader users to skip between various sections by using the screen reader’s navigate by headings option. With the Windows screen readers NVDA and JAWS, this is accomplished by pressing h to move forward and shift+h to go backward. An example of a site with headings is the JAWS screen reader resource

“What’s New in JAWS”.

On that page, I can navigate quickly to read about various features available in the current version of JAWS screen reader. While writing my blog post, I was not able to identify a site which lacks headings. However, I have experienced web sites with no headings at all during my years of Internet usage. Now, my focus shifts to web accessibility resources.

 

My focus above on accessible links and heading availability provides a basic accessibility foundation on which interested persons can acquire further knowledge. Accessibility guidelines have been developed over a period of many years by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The current guidelines are versions 2.0 and 2.1. For more specific and technical information, I recommend visiting the W3C’s

“Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview”.

Those guidelines go into substantially more detail and technicality than I have outlined here. For example, the WCAG address web accessibility barriers encountered by people with various disabilities. For reference, I also found an article from the

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

web site entitled

“10 Tips for an Accessible Website”.

I encourage anyone interested in learning more about web site accessibility to gain insight.

 

Question for readers: If you have experienced a web site accessibility difficulty, what happened and how did you handle it? I will return next week.

 

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