Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 9th is a community-driven effort whose goal is to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/device, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities.
Here are our top 5 tips on how to make sure your WordPress website is accessible to people with various disabilities.
Tip 1 – Don’t Use ReCaptcha
Nobody likes receiving spam via contact forms on a website.
Many people will be tempted to put a CAPTCHA in place to stop bots from automatically scraping and spamming forms.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart and looks something like this.
This particular captcha is probably the worst choice you could put on your website for those with visual impairments.
The audio function they use tries to do the same type of obfuscation with sound as it does with the text.
The results are completely inaudible. Try yourself by clicking on the speaker icon, close your eyes and see if you can make out the individual letters.
If you need to add a CAPTCHA then consider using one that asks for a response to simple sums or that asks you to choose an option from a number of choices like http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/captcha/screenshots/
Anything that is readable by a screen reader will do.
Tip 2 – Use Alt Tags for Images
Firstly, never put an image in your content just for aesthetics. That should be part of the design not the content.
Secondly, always use the ALT tag with images and enter something descriptive.
Don’t just put in “Fish Tank”.
Enter something like – “Picture of me and my nephew next to the large fish tanks at SeaWorld”.
Those who are visually impaired can’t see your image properly so they rely on the alt tag for their screen readers to describe what is being shown.
Tip 3 – Don’t Use Click Here for Links – Ever!
This should be a rule of thumb for all content regardless of accessibility issues.
It may me tempting to enter a paragraph of text then a hyperlink afterwards saying “click here”.
Ok – most people would understand what you mean but have a thought for screen readers.
Without context all they will hear is “Link – Click Here”, “Link – Click Here”, “Link – Click Here”.
Think about your links and give them some context – “Grab a copy of our new ebook”.
Your SEO will improve too by allowing you to see the different links people are clicking on.
Tip 4 – Use Skip to Content on Intro Animations
If you have any intro animations on your site, make sure you have a “Skip to Content” link somewhere within the animation.
Visually impaired people don’t care about your flashy animations.
They just get in the way and keep them from the real content on your website.
Add a Skip to Content link for them.
Tip 5 – Order Your Content for Readability
There was a fad a few years ago to “shake up your content”.
Putting the footer at the top and sidebar in the middle of the page was “funky”.
No. It was just plain stupid.
Your content should flow on screen like the chapters in a book.
Every part of your website page should lead to the next in the western left-to-right or the eastern right-to-left setup.
Screen readers will go through your website in this way and if you’re content is all jumbled up, it will make no sense.
Put some thought into the order of content on your web pages.
Support The Global Effort
Make the web a better place for those with various disabilities and support Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 9th.