Website accessibility guidelines and standards exist to make the Internet usable by a larger population. Web accessibility is critical for government and health care provider websites, but even small businesses should take web accessibility serious.
Many small businesses have websites built with WordPress and WordPress accessibility can be tricky, requiring extra attention to details from the designers, developers, and anyone creating or editing website content.
Let’s take a look at what web accessibility is and what can make a website not accessible.
What makes a website not accessible?
- You are using colors that don’t meet color accessibility guidelines.
- You are using fonts that are too small or difficult to read.
- Including flashing or fast moving content that is difficult to read.
- Not including image ALT tags, form labels, video transcripts, or easily understood content.
The WordPress accessibility problems above can happen for several reasons, such as:
- When you use a theme or plugin that didn’t account for web accessibility guidelines.
- Your brand style or website color scheme isn’t following color accessibility recommendations.
- When people creating content on your website aren’t aware of best practices for web accessibility.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility is making sure your website is functional and easy to use for the largest number of visitors possible.
If you have a brick and mortar business, you know that it has to be accessible to the public. The most common example of this is having a wheelchair ramp access for those who cannot take the stairs.
Your website should be no exception. Everyone should be able to view your website and engage your business online. Taking the time to fix your website accessibility problems can only improve your website’s effectiveness.
Why is website accessibility important?
If your website isn’t accessible, it’s broken.
Great website accessibility improves your website’s usability and user experience as a whole.
Website visitors who can easily navigate through and understand a website are more likely to make a purchase, submit a form, or become a lead.
Under certain circumstances, you could face legal disputes for not addressing website accessibility.
In 2018, there were over 2000 website accessibility lawsuits filed, more than double the number from 2017. In 2019, you can expect to see another increase in website accessibility lawsuits.
Is your website accessible?
How can you find out if your website is accessible?
There are many online website accessibility test tools you can use to test your website content and design.
Below are two web tools we use when testing website accessibility.
Don’t feel bad if your website does poorly on the accessibility test. You wouldn’t be alone. Many of the Internet’s top ranking websites aren’t accessible.
These website accessibility checkers and tools can be useful, but automated accessibility tests shouldn’t be trusted entirely.
A manual accessibility test is going to yield better results for certain accessibility features. There are website accessibility tests you can do on your own too, without any special equipment or software.
When investigating your own website's accessibility, look for the following:
- Is the website easy to navigate? Can you do it with just a keyboard?
- Can you easily search through the page content?
- Is it clear what page you’re on as you browse the site?
- If you have contact forms, have you included labels? Have you included meaningful confirmation or validation messages?
- Is there enough contrast between text colors and background colors or images?
- Is the font a legible size and typeface?
- Are page elements consistent in design across the website?
- Are there any rapid or repeating, fast-moving animations, or flashing page elements?
- Have images been given ALT tags?
- Are written transcripts available for your video content?
WordPress Accessibility Plugins
Installing and activating a WordPress accessibility plugin can help you take a big step forward without a significant investment. WP Accessibility and WP Accessibility Helper (WAH) are two WordPress accessibility plugins that can help improve your website accessibility.
Having a website accessibility audit completed and implementing solutions that come from the audit is your best step forward.
It is recommended to have a professional fix underlying problems with your WordPress accessibility. This is because every WordPress website is different and will require a different treatment to reach the same goals.
Sometimes you’ll need to update the existing page content, change site-wide styling, or update part of your theme files.
Make the Web Accessible, One Website at a Time
Reaching total accessibility on the Internet is a pipe dream, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reach for it!
A more inclusive Internet benefits everyone.
Whether you do it because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s better for your business, website accessibility should be considered a worthwhile investment in your website and digital strategy.