Does your website have entrance ramps for wheelchair users, and braille buttons on its elevators? Many users with physical impairments find that the digital world can be just as daunting as the world of bricks and mortar. When designing and creating for the Internet age, it’s easy to put yourself in the place of your readers. But it takes all kinds to make a world, so you should create for everyone who might visit your site.
In this week’s post, we’re going to look at some of the basic steps that you can take to ensure that your website is accessible and welcoming to everyone. Creating an accessible WordPress site can be challenging, but it is always rewarding.
Designing for the Visually Impaired
One of the most basic steps that you can take is to ensure that your website can easily be accessed by visually impaired users. The nice thing about these approaches is that they are also central to good web design more generally. The websites Visually Impaired Site Design, Mashable , and the American Foundation for the Blind have some great tips:
- Text. Limit the use of graphical text as much as possible. As well, make sure the font size on your website can be increased (see last week’s post about font sizes). Above all, make sure that all images have meaningful alternative text, especially images that convey information. In WordPress, you can see this in Image Properties > Alternate Text.
- Colour. Make sure that you use solid colors that contrast well. As well, be mindful of colorblindness when designing forms. Avoid using color combinations that are easily confused by colorblind users, e.g. red/green and blue/yellow.
- Layout. If your website has a mobile version, you should allow desktop users to access it. Mobile layouts tend to be much more visually accessible than their desktop counterparts.
- Navigation. Allowing keyboard shortcuts to navigate your website will earn you some major credibility among visually impaired users.
Designing for Dyslexics
Dyslexia is a spectrum of learning disabilities that make it difficult for many people to read. Roughly 5 to 10 percent of the population has some form of dyslexia, which can make reading on the Internet a struggle.
Abelardo Gonzalez, a coder from Boston, recently created a font especially for some dyslexics. From his website:
Dyslexia affects about 5–10 percent of people worldwide – so Gonzalez’s font could help millions of dyslexics navigate the treacherous waters of the web.
Above all, when designing and writing for your site, it always helps to keep visually and reading-impaired readers in mind. By taking a few steps in the right direction, you can extend a welcoming hand to thousands of potential visitors.
(Feature image credit: We Read Better)