At  WeCo (The Wehrman Collaborative) we contract with testers who live with many different disabilities. These testers are the heartbeat of our company. They are the experts in the field of accessibility because they not only understand accessibility; WeCo Certified Test Consultants live it. We thought it would be interesting to find out what they think makes a web page accessible. When we asked them, they had many ideas but the same main themes kept popping up.

WeCo staff and consultants gathered together for holiday party 2014

One thing our sight related testers like to see in a website is alternative text for images. Our testers run into issues with images over and over again. Often images, photos, graphs etc. are not correctly labeled. The tester’s screen reader cannot read what the image is, if it has any useful information, or if there is even any information there at all! Always use alternative text on all images and graphs. If this seems daunting, there is another option.  You can just use fewer pictures and use mostly words to convey information. Testers from all disability classifications agree that it is easier to get the information from reading something rather than finding it in an image or sound bite.

Another thing that popped up a few times was the font size. Testers who live with sight, motor skill, and cognitive disabilities all said that having a readable font in a large print helps a lot with site navigation. Keeping things easy to find and logical is key in making a website easy for all people to access. Going with this thought, make sure your links are large and clickable. Our testers who live with motor skill disabilities, find it very difficult to navigate a website if the links are too small for them to click on with an unsteady hand.

Our Tester Chad uses a pointer to access the internet with his laptop

The needs of our testers living with hearing related disabilities are a little different than that of the other categories. First, they said captions on videos are a must. If you are using software to put captions on your videos (like YouTube does) make sure to double check all your videos to make sure the captions make sense! Second, use high quality sound. For our testers who have partial hearing, having high quality sound can make the difference! Third, ease of navigation. In other words, make it user friendly! People are not going to make use of your great captioning if they can’t find the button to turn it on!

These tips will get you on your way to making your website accessible to everyone! Not sure if your website needs to be accessible?

Here are some of the things our testers like to do online:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Research for hobbies and interests
  • Research for advocacy purposes
  • Use news sources
  • Shopping for groceries, clothes and presents
  • Shopping for services
  • Surfing for fun
  • Stay in touch with coworkers and clients
  • For my job function
  • Social networking
  • Record keeping and file management

As our world becomes more and more virtual, it brings many things that were inaccessible to many people right into their homes. However, if the websites we build today are inaccessible we haven’t made any real progress. People who live with sight related disabilities can now shop for groceries unaided! Those who use wheelchairs don’t have to worry about navigating crowded stores and boutiques! People who live with hearing related disabilities can now attend conferences with captions so they know they’re receiving all the information!

If your website does any of the things listed above, accessibility is a huge deal! At WeCo our main concern is creating an accessible world and we hope that you will take up our cause with us as we charge forward toward a more accessible tomorrow!