Today more than 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment. This is a huge figure. Therefore, the question of whether to make your site accessible for the blind and visually impaired is obvious!
While for people who are not visually impaired it is easy to find information on the Internet, for visually impaired users it is still a problem. Remove those boundaries for them. You must optimize your site so that visually impaired users can freely use your site and receive the information or products they need.
In today's blog, our web development company will focus on creating accessible websites for visually impaired users.
What are web accessibility and web design for blind users?
Web accessibility for blind users is what allows users with different vision problems to understand and use your website.
Making a website accessible site for the blind and visually impaired users is like building a house with a ramp.
Today, most of the pressure has been placed on the visual component of the site. This matters less for visually impaired users, because in most cases they do not see it. For them, the ease of use and navigation on the site should be carefully thought out. Only a really high-quality site will take care of web design for people with visual impairments.
How do blind people see the site?
People with good eyesight find it easy to navigate your site because they can use visual cues on an intuitive level — using headers of different levels, highlighted areas, pictures, menus, footers, etc.
It is more difficult for people with poor eyesight or blind to navigate and use the site because they cannot see it. Everything that a sighted person sees is read by a screen reader to a blind person. A screen reader is a special program that reads code and speaks the contents aloud. It moves from left to right and top to bottom,from the first level headings to the smaller ones.
How can you tell if a website is accessible to the blind?
You can test your website for accessibility for the blind yourself, although you can only get a third of the data.
The main points you should check
- Check whether your images have the appropriate alternate text
- Make sure do your headings are properly structured
- Test whether users can navigate your site using the TAB key
- Check if coded skip links are working properly
You can use automated accessibility testing tools like this:
To get a complete and accurate audit of your site for the visually impaired user, you will have to use the services of a professional web development company.
The Principles of Accessible Website
If the page markup is incorrect, then blind users will have to listen to all the information on the page in a row until they get to the desired section. That is why it is important that all structure elements have signatures, correct display, and understandable types.
There is an international WCAG standard, which stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It provides for the following basic principles, which each digital product must comply with:
- Everyone should be able to perceive the content
- Everyone should be able to manage content
- Everyone should be able to conceptualize content
Tips on How to Make a Website Accessible for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1. Add a descriptive page title for every page
As soon as visually impaired users visit your site, they should easily understand where they are. This means that the first element that the screen reader detects and reads must be the page title, not something else.
In terms of code and accessibility, it is very important for a screen reader that this element is the first that a blind user hears. Then they understand which page they are on and what to expect from this page.
2. All headings at the same level must be the same size
The structure of the headings and their styles are the basis of navigation for the blind. Therefore, it is important that the headings have the correct architecture and the correct levels.
If the developer prescribes the headings as headings of different levels, then for a blind person the entire structure of information will look incorrect.
3. All elements of the same type must have the same appearance
If you have links on your site, then you must prescribe them properly, so that the screen reader reads this as a link and not as plain text. At the same time, the regular text on the site should not look like a link.
This is a fairly common mistake that turns the structure of a digital product into mush. Such a mistake turns a blind person's UX into a problem.
4. Headings and titles should be clear and informative
Blind users have no other channels of perception other than screen readers. Therefore, you should formulate all the headings as clearly as possible.
For example, you should write not just Step 1, but Step 1: "Enter your mail."
This also applies to link text. Formulate them out clearly. For example, not just “see the link,” but “buy a product.”
5. The table should be added as a table, not as a picture
If you want to add a table to your site, then design it as a table. This is the only way it will be available for reading by a screen reader. The table should be formatted accordingly. Timelines and columns should have clear names. It is desirable to indicate the total amount of time to make it easier for visually impaired users to assess the total amount of information.
6. The structure of the site should be extremely clear and well thought out
This is important because a blind user is deprived of any information except what the screen reader reads. In this case, the lack of a logical structure and clearly defined areas in the code can make the digital product simply inaccessible.
All that is required to create an accessible site for visually impaired users is to correctly build an information architecture and create a correct layout.
7. Use correct and sufficient contrast and textures
Check the contrast of the colors you use on your site. Similar colors are hard to perceive for visually impaired users and generate an additional problem for both them and you. For example, WCAG recommends using a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
8. Visually impaired users should have keyboard accessibility
In order to make an accessible site for the blind and visually impaired user, you should enable them to use keyboard shortcuts. Using keyboard shortcuts makes navigating your site much easier, as they don't use a mouse. Keyboard commands help visually impaired users navigate your site.
How to build a website for the visually impaired?
Sometimes it is recommended to develop two different versions of the site for people with disabilities and everyone else. But believe us, this is not a good idea. Just make an accessible site for the visually impaired user right away.
Once you make an accessible site for visually impaired users, you have a whole new audience.
If you need to get the help of professional web developers, contact us. We provide the full range of services to make your website accessible for visually impaired users.