At least 8 out of 10 people today use the internet on a daily basis for entertainment, as well as to find information on products and services before making a buying decision. The first thing a browser notices in a website is the design, followed by the integrated graphics, and the content. Since most people use WordPress to build their websites very few of them think about WordPress accessibility. In this article, we look into website accessibility and how to improve and test your WordPress accessibility.
What is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility is the practice of making your website accessible to all users especially those living with disabilities such as vision and hearing impairment. Besides this, did you know that website accessibility can affect your Google keyword ranking? Read more on it in this article. More so, you need to ensure that as a brand, your website design is accessible by all potential site visitors including
- People using devices with small screens that use different input modes
- People with temporary disabilities such as lost glasses and broken limbs
- The elderly
- People experiencing situational limitations, for example, people in areas where they cannot listen to the audio content on your page or they are in a brightly lit location
- People with a slow internet connection
Why You Should Give More Thought to Website Accessibility
Lawmakers across the world are looking to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities. Website accessibility is one of the ways of future proofing your business and avoid any surprises following a change in legislation. For example, in the US, companies such as Target, Netflix, and Disney are facing lawsuits for having inaccessible websites where Target was mandated to pay $6 million in damages.
Studies show that by 2017, there were over 700 ADA and web accessibility cases since 2015, with most of the defendants being retail companies. However, most brands think that they are too small to be nabbed in the net, but there are more compelling reasons why you should consider improving your WordPress accessibility.
In a Pew Research Survey, people living with disabilities are three times more likely to go online using computers than people living without disabilities, and 71% of them will leave the website if it is inaccessible. More so, people with disabilities account for $7 trillion in disposable income annually, and this is too vast a market to let go.
How to Make Your Website More Accessible
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 has several options that can help improve your WordPress accessibility. You can however make the process easier by using an accessibility plugin, use of accessible themes, or change the contrast, colour, image ALT text, text alternatives, and content headers among others. Here is a more in-depth look at the WordPress accessibility options
Install the WordPress Accessibility Plugin
The plugin offers you several useful features, but it only rectifies a few of the accessibility issues without affecting the theme. The WP accessibility plugin adds skip-links to your pages which then allow users to skip to the content as soon as they get to your site.
This feature is particularly useful for people using screen readers. Besides this, it allows you to add a toolbar which comes in handy for people with vision impairment. It allows them to change font sizes, grayscale, and the contrast of the page they are viewing.
Consider the Colour and Contrast
There are over 2.7 million colour blind people across the world and are divided into three categories; people with deficient colour vision, those with two-colour vision, and those with total colour blindness. With that said, you should consider the effect of contrast and colour ratios on WordPress accessibility.
You can use black and white colour options to improve the readability of your site and according to WCAG 2.0; you ought to use a contrast ratio of4.5:1 for the text body. If you want to add more flare to your site, you can increase the contrast by using textures or patterns.
Use Image ALT Text Appropriately
The image ALT text describes the function and appearance of an image on a web page. Initially, it was meant to enhance accessibility since many screen readers cannot interpret an image without ALT text. However, many people today are using ALT text as an SEO strategy to make targeted keywords more recognisable by search engine crawlers.
Screen readers use ALT text to describe an image to the user with the help of the ALT text. If you are using it for keyword stuffing, you should stop since you are lowering the quality of your WordPress accessibility.
Add Content Headers
Most people skim through the content without reading it word for word and the use of content headers allow users to skip to the parts that are relevant to them. Content headers also help to break up large blocks of text into manageable sections of content.
Use Text Alternatives
If you have multimedia content on your website, for example, podcasts, videos, or audiobooks, you can add transcripts or subtitles to it. This makes it more accessible to deaf people and people in noisy public areas allowing them to enjoy the content without much hassle.
Use Keyboard Accessible Menus and Links
For people with impaired motor skills, they have a hard time using the mouse to navigate your website. Instead, they rely on keyboard shortcuts to navigate sites. For example, they use the ‘Tab’ key and ‘Shift + Tab’ keys combination to move forward and back.
The problem however is that the items in the submenus of dropdown menus are not accessible. To improve WordPress accessibility, you can assign the menus to specific keys. For example, pressing “H” will take you to the homepage, pressing “C” takes you to the contact us page, and so forth.
Testing For WordPress Accessibility
You can always test the quality of your WordPress accessibility with these tools. You can use several of them and get a definitive figure indicating how your website stacks up. If you are using the Google Chrome browser, you can add the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) extension which is an easier way of enhancing the WordPress accessibility.
Many website owners focus on website but hardly give though to how people living with disabilities and how difficult it is for them to navigate their sites. With the above tips, you can optimize your WordPress website and ensure that your UI delivers quality UX for all users. Not only will you improve website accessibility, but you will rip the benefits of having better SEO.
Get a free and no-obligation consultation from our expert website design department in Singapore. We will work with you to ensure that your website is fully functional and providing you value for money.