Tips for Achieving Web Accessibility and Compliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Lots of times, when we think about the guidelines set forth by the ADA, we associate them with the need to provide accommodations in public places for individuals with physical disabilities. So things like wheelchair ramps and elevator access come to mind – but we don’t necessarily think about some of the more specific needs that exist, like web accessibility for the blind.
As we continue to become increasingly reliant on our electronic devices and internet-based services, ADA compliance is applicable to many more areas of modern life than just physical locations. ADA regulations have always been meant to serve individuals with all types of disabilities – not just those who rely on wheelchairs to get around. As a result, businesses need to begin paying closer attention to creating accessible online information for individuals of all abilities, and designing websites for the blind.
The importance of web accessibility for the blind
According to Prevent Blindness, millions of older Americans – 53.2 million aged 45 and over, to be exact – suffer from some form of visual impairment, and approximately 18 percent of those are categorized as legally blind, which makes web and digital graphic design for the visually impaired a particularly important issue to address.
By implementing visually impaired website compliance guidelines, you give individuals with all types of visual impairments, whether that be blindness, color blindness or anything in between, the ability to enjoy the same overall user experience as a non-disabled individual. The goal of the ADA, after all, is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, and web accessibility for the blind falls directly under that umbrella.
How to make a website accessible for the blind
If you’re looking for tips on how to make a website accessible for the blind and visually impaired, you’ve come to the right place. Web accessibility for the blind can be achieved in a number of ways, four of which are highlighted in the visually impaired website guidelines below.
- Allow for enlarged text. Even if you’d prefer not to increase the overall font size across the full scope of your site, you can still achieve visually impaired website compliance. You can design your site so that when a user enables the text-only zoom in his or her browser, the layout remains intact and can still be navigated as intended. On pages with large amounts of text, like a blog post, you may want to consider offering a text-only version so the user can manipulate the copy however they need to for optimal readability.
- Create a high-contrast version of your site. Certain types of colorblindness make it difficult to distinguish between subtle color differences. You can make your site more visually accessible to individuals who experience red-green or blue-yellow colorblindness, for example, by creating an alternate version of your site that is designed with extra contrast between elements, especially action items and blocks of text.
- Label all images with alt-text. Many individuals utilize screen readers to help them determine what is on the screen. In order for these tools to “read” images, the images must be labeled on the back end of the website with alt-text tags that describe the images in question.
- Enable keyboard shortcuts. Following a cursor around the screen can be difficult and cause excessive eyestrain for some individuals. To make your site more accessible for this group, you can enable keyboard shortcuts that allow your users to navigate the site by keyboard only, rather than having to rely on the use of a mouse.
Examples of websites for visually impaired individuals
There are many examples around the web of sites that have been designed for optimal web accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.
KidzWish, a nonprofit organization based in Australia, provides support, love and laughter to children who are sick, disadvantaged or have a disability. When the organization redesigned its website in 2016, it focused on accommodating all of the people with varying abilities who regularly visit its site. As such, the site utilizes large text sizes and a vibrant – and high-contrast – color palette of orange, purple, white and black.
Similarly, the UK-based Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), caters directly to visually impaired individuals and their families, and its site is indicative of that. The home page, specifically, is clean, simple and bright (mostly white and black, with pops of bright pink) and features large text and clearly labeled images.
For help in understanding the process of making your site ADA compliant, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design today to schedule a consultation.