The inception of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) started with a single blog post, written by a Los Angeles web developer named Joe Devon. Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto, came across Joe’s blog post via Twitter and immediately contacted him. They joined forces to leverage their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.
The purpose of GAAD is to bring more awareness to the challenges faced by people who live with disabilities, particularly those challenges related to website and software accessibility. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we have compiled some accessibility tips to get you started on making your website accessible.
The below tips are categorized into four sections, based upon the main disability classifications recognized by the U.S. Department of Human Services (sight, motor skill, hearing, and cognitive).
Accessibility Tips: Sight-Related
For users with sight-related disabilities, one of the most important accessibility assistive technology tools is the screen reader. A screen reader is a software program that reads on-screen content using a synthesized voice. For users living with sight-related disabilities using screen readers, it’s important to keep the following in mind when considering digital accessibility:
- Ensure that websites have headings that are descriptive. Headings allow screen reader users to navigate and skim the content of a web page quickly.
- Ensure that images, graphics, and photos have descriptive alternative text. This is because screen readers cannot interpret the contents of images, graphics, or photos.
Accessibility Tips: Motor Skill-Related
For users with motor skill-related disabilities, one of the most important tools for them, when accessing the web, is the keyboard. This is due to their limited fine motor control. For users with motor skill-related disabilities, it’s important to keep the following in mind when considering digital accessibility:
- Ensure that the website is navigable using only keystrokes. For example, it is helpful to style links, buttons, and other clickable elements with an outline or some other visual indicator to display when they have received focus via keyboard.
- Ensure that all form fields can be accessed when using the tab key to navigate websites.
Accessibility Tips: Hearing-Related
For users with hearing-related disabilities, video captioning is a necessity. This is because the web is increasingly consisting of videos and multimedia content. For users with hearing-related disabilities, it’s important to keep the following in mind when considering digital accessibility:
- Ensure that all captions are correct, in both spelling and grammar, when using software to generate captions before publishing videos. This is because automated software has no guarantee of correctness or accuracy.
- Use high quality sound whenever possible. This can prove quite helpful for individuals with partial hearing loss.
Accessibility Tips: Cognitive-Related
The main issue faced by many users with cognitive disabilities is complexity. Having an overly complex web site can make it difficult for these users to find the information they are looking for. For users with cognitive-related disabilities, it’s important to keep the following in mind when considering digital accessibility:
- Maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the website.
- Use plain language whenever possible, as this can go a long way toward making any website usable by the broadest audiences, especially those with a cognitive disability.
Assistive Device Demonstrations
Watch WeCo staff demonstrate using their assistive devices to navigate the Internet.
Want to learn more about accessibility? WeCo has a variety of free public and paid single-seat trainings available. Some examples of the training we offer:
- Getting Started in Accessibility
- Make Your Business Case for Accessibility (Webinar)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Jump Start
For a complete list of WeCo’s training events, visit our Events & Training page.
Further reading from WeCo’s Accessibility Blog about global accessibility: