Sep
8
Small Changes, Big Impact: Creating an Accessible Website for All

Did you know that persons with disabilities are the third largest economic power in the world, after the US and China?

While there is an increasing awareness around physical spaces there isn’t as much around online spaces.

Accessing the internet every day, 70% of persons with disabilities will leave a website instantly if it is inaccessible.

As a result, you could be losing potential customers because of something as simple as website design.

Besides the fact that eighty percent of persons with disabilities rate accessibility above price when choosing where to purchase, creating a more accessible website helps to create a more equitable world. 

On August 19, 2021, Women’s Enterprise Centre hosted Kale Gosen, Co-Founder of Humanize Consulting, for a WECafe session where she shared her expertise about creating accessible online environments.  

Here are some key insights from her session to help you make your online presence more accessible:

What is accessibility?

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services or environments for people who experience disabilities. 

Why does accessibility matter?

In the western world these days, you might be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t access the internet daily. 

This is acutely true for people who’s disability affects their ability to leave their home. Using the internet widely, they not only access products and services but also use it as a platform to share voices, tackle isolation and connect with their community.   

How do people with various disabilities access the internet?

There is some very cool assistive tech out there that helps to convey information on a website in different ways. For example, screen reader software and magnifiers, to name a couple. 

How you set up your website will directly affect how well this tech is able to read and convey the information presented.    

Types of barriers, and how you can minimize them

For most people, if you can’t navigate a website or find what you want within the first few minutes, you leave.  

Here are some things to consider to avoid common accessibility barriers:  

Website design

  • Be mindful of your headings and subheadings – Screen readers will differentiate between H1, H2, H3 etc. allowing the user to skip through and navigate the website efficiently. 
  • Pick a responsive design – Your web pages will automatically render to suit the user’s device for a better user experience.
  • Use simple language – it is easier for people to understand your message and for assistive technology to convey.  

Colour Scheme 

  • Use high contrasting colours for text and background – This will benefit people with low vision. It will also help people to battle eye fatigue.
  • Be aware of colour blindness – when certain colours are next to each other, they might not be visible for some people. For example, text on a call to action button.
  • Use high contrast images – they’re easier to see and help to distinguish text and non-text elements.

Pop-ups 

  • Do not use them – They are not accessible. Instead, try an obvious button; people will sign up if they want to, regardless of whether you use a pop-up.

ALT Text 

  • Use it! – It provides a short description that will show if an image is not able to load (e.g. in case of a poor internet connection or if the image blocker is activated). It can also be read by assistive tech.    
  • When to use it – Any image on your website including pictures, banners, logos, icons, links and buttons.
  • How to use it – Describe the context of the image. Try to use 30 words or 125 characters for readability and user experience. 

Other things to consider

  • Social media Hashtags – CapitalizeEachWord, this makes it easier for everyone to read each word without running on, including assistive tech.
  • Survey forms – provide an email as surveys are not always accessible.
And remember:

The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of their disability is an essential aspect.  

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the internet.

Watch the Recording

Gain more tips for your website in the full webinar recording!


Women's Enterprise Centre

Women’s Enterprise Centre is a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women launch, lead and scale their own businesses. Our full range of services includes business loans up to $150K, business advice, skills training, mentoring, resources and a supportive community to help women entrepreneurs realize their business potential. Connect with us today for personalized support for your business!

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