Is your organization gearing up for new website project? Accessibility works best when it’s built into a project from the start. Rebuilding or creating a new website is a great opportunity to get it done right.
WeCo’s Accessibility Team recommends taking three simple steps before you begin to ensure an accessible redesign that meets the needs of customers who live with disabilities:
#1: Consider the Canvas and Choose the Right Template
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.
For instance: blue letters and a blue background might not provide sufficient contrast for users with low vision. (Tools to test for color contrast are available in WeCo’s Free Accessibility Library.)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.
#2: Plan the Content with Accessibility in Mind
With 75% of the WCAG based on content, content management plays an extremely important role in making a website accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.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.
#3: Start a New Habit of Using Accessibility Features
A new website, or redesign can be a great opportunity to begin good accessible design habits. Adjust your team development processes to include implementing accessibility basics, such as using your CSS properly. Formally identify style components such as headings, bullet and numbered lists and adding alternative text tags to all images. 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.
Not sure where to begin? WeCo’s Accessibility Team can help with Digital Design Accessibility Services to help you design accessibly before you build.
Learn more about designing for users living with disabilities, and take advantage of free accessibility tools at WeCo’s Free Accessibility Library. https://theweco.com/wecos-free-access-library/.