How to Make Your Website Accessible to People with Impairments
More than 25 million South East Asian residents live with hearing loss, and the region is also home to half of the world’s blind children. With the Internet becoming an increasingly essential part of everyday life, the World Wide Web needs to be designed with these people in mind. The online world is necessary for study, work, entertainment and communication, making it an almost unavoidable part of modern life. As with TV and film, there are ways to modify your website to cater to those with hearing or visual impairments. Following these tips will help your technology business by increasing the size of your potential audience.
Accessibility for the Visually Impaired
All partially sighted people have a unique experience of the world, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your website should therefore be as flexible as possible. Using a text to speech software will ensure that anyone can hear the text on each page, by scrolling through sections using the tab button.
However, for images and graphs, it can be more tricky. Using bright colors for bar graphs will help some users, while being of little use to the colorblind. You should therefore use both bright colors and a pattern to ensure online accessibility for everyone. Continuing on the theme of flexibility, you should allow the user to select their own browser settings. This means allowing them to set the colors and font size so that they can adjust it to their liking.
For the ease of use of all users, you should give them as much control as possible. Remove any unnecessary graphics and create a clean looking site. This will be easier to navigate for the visually impaired, but also improve your Google rankings by decreasing loading time.
Accessibility for Deafness
There are an estimated 21 million hearing-impaired people in China and a possible 60 million in India. These are internet users who need the same access to the web as anyone. Using subtitles and captions will be of some use, but you need to understand how the deaf community experiences the world. Subtitles should be translatable into sign language, which has a different structure to the spoken English language.
If you can use a sign language interpreter, then this should be preferred. This is why television programs will often have an actual person on screen to cater to the hearing-impaired, rather than just having subtitles.
Your writing should be simplified and written in short sentences. This will more accurately mirror sign language, which is how the deaf interact with the world. If possible, you can offer two versions of text; one in more complex prose and one in a simplified version. This offers choice to users, allowing your content to be accessible to people of all age groups and abilities.
In a world dependent upon the internet for work and relationships, we have a moral duty to increase accessibility. In the same way buildings are installed with ramps and wide doors to accommodate wheelchair users, the internet should be built so that everyone can have equal access. This will also increase your audience and consequently search engine performance.