The Internet is the first place people go to learn about your company and products. But what happens when someone has a disability and tries to access your page?
People with disabilities (as well as many people without disabilities) may use non-standard devices or browsers to navigate the Internet. For example, if your website is not formatted to ensure accessibility, people using screen readers may not be able to access your content.
Case studies show that making your website accessible will “increase search results, reduced maintenance costs, and expand audience reach.” By making your web content more accessible, you will include a wider range of audiences and devices, which will expand your reach and benefit your company.
Plus, making your content accessible may be required by laws in your area.
So, how do you make web content accessible for all people?
By including multisensory experiences and multi-interactivity navigation systems, you can allow people with disabilities to access the same information as others.
Provide a Multisensory Experience
Accessible content includes functions for both sight and sound processing. To increase the multisensory nature of your content, you can add things like text alternatives for images and transcripts for audio recordings.
1. Ensure Images Have Alternative Text
Alternative text (or "alt text") is a written description of the elements contained in a visual image.
Alternative text labels the controls and functionality contained within your website, so people can use a keyboard or voice recognition system to navigate. Alt text can also labels audio, video, and other files, like buttons or applications, so the public can find everything they need.
Alt text allows those who are blind or have poor vision to use a screen reader to read aloud the information contained on the website. It also helps users in areas with low bandwidth to read the information via text instead of waiting for images to load. (Plus, search engines can also use alt text to help rank your site!)
Alternative text should convey the purpose of the image or its function, in order to provide an equivalent user experience. For example, the visual image of a search button would be “search” instead of “magnifying lens”. Also, make sure images include alternative text in the markup or code. This text could change dependent on what you are intending to use the image for.
When you provide alternative text for an image, it makes the information contained within the image available to those who cannot see the images. This helps to publish your website to a wider audience, giving them the tools to access all the information.
2. Include Captions, Transcripts, and Sign Language Interpretation
Audio files are not available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing unless a transcript, closed captions, or sign language interpretation is provided.
A transcript is a typed copy of dictated or recorded material. A transcript makes audio information accessible to people who cannot hear, as well as search engines and other technologies.
Creating a captions or a transcript for videos and other audio files on your website is now easy and relatively inexpensive. A simple search via your favorite search engine can help you find local and remote services that can transcribe your audio files. Transcription services will create text transcripts in HTML format for your audience, which you can include on your website.
Additionally, you could include sign language interpretation of audio content to allow for those who cannot hear to access your content in a different way.
3. Enable Multi-Interactivity Navigation
Multi-interactivity navigation systems allow for additional means of site navigation and interactivity beyond the typical point-and-click-interface. This includes keyboard-based control and voice-based navigation.
Including keyboard based controls into your interface allows people who cannot use a mouse, such as users who have limited fine motor control, to access your website and all the content it provides through their keyboards.
Once this is in place, people who use assistive technologies that mimic the keyboard, such as voice recognition navigation, will be able to access the same information.
By including accessible features within your website and content, you will increase your search engine recognition, raise your foot traffic, and broaden your audience reach.