With fall upon us, many organizations are gearing up for new projects and initiatives. If a website refresh or redesign is among them WeCo’s Accessibility Team, all of whom live with disabilities, recommends taking three simple steps before you begin:
- Consider the Canvas: Just as a painter would select the best canvas for a masterpiece, before you begin consider the electronic canvas you’ll be using for your website. Whether you’re recycling an existing template or starting from scratch: keep the design simple, with defined contrast between the text and background. This makes it easy for low vision user to read your text. Also, avoid flashing and moving graphics or if you select a slideshow style template, make sure it has “start/stop” controls. This ensures that your website won’t needlessly distract users with cognitive disabilities from reading your content and is less likely to create health concerns for users with seizure disorders.
- Plan the Content: Many web developers/masters don’t understand the important role content management plays in making a website accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. We also don’t often realize that, in many organizations, we may be the only people truly keeping an eye on content management. Before you begin your project, gather the people who will be driving/providing your content and educate them on a few accessible tips: clear, concise language which doesn’t assume the reader understands jargon or abbreviated terms is best, especially when dealing with the general public. Give the reader a “taste” of information, while providing links to learn more, can keep pages uncluttered and are less likely to overwhelm readers with cognitive disabilities and make your content more approachable for everyone.
- Identify Page Components: Use the redesign as an opportunity to begin good accessible design habits such as formally identifying style components such as headings, bulleted and numbered lists and adding alternative text tags to all images, whether they be photographs, logos or charts. This practice will foster better, and more consistent access, for users with sight related disabilities and those who use speech recognition and eye tracking software.