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Accessible Websites – Is Your Site Compliant?

Accessible websites CAN be affordable for small business owners.

Accessible websites are becoming increasingly important.  Small business owners, especially those who have an online store, a brick and mortar location, or restaurant with online ordering capability.  A recent ruling in a South Florida District Court statedcthat if a store is online, handicap accessibility laws apply just as they would a brick and mortar location.

Many do-it-yourself web hosting services are addressing this issue, but if your site is outdated, you may need to update some elements to make it accessible to all.  Here are five signs your site may not be accessible:

  • There is no “ring” or “focus ring” around the selected element.  In other words, if you cannot visually tell where your cursor is on the site, or what element is selected either via color change or some type of highlighting ring around that element, you don’t know which element is “in focus.” Web Accessibility Guidelines specifically state that the element selected must have an indication which element has focus.  Worried about style?  No problem – use a box shadow, or underline text if it’s a menu item.  Those options can fit with any style, and will keep your site compliant and still looking classy.
  • Radio buttons and dropdown menus for choosing specific attributes of an item, (like toppings on a pizza, or size of t-shirt) may not always work with the user’s browser screenreader or other screenreader technology.  If you’re not sure if your radio buttons or menu choices are accessible, it might be a good idea to reach out to a webmaster who is versed in accessibility semantics.  Paying for an audit of your site, and some minor surgery will be worth it to bring your site up to date and be in compliance with accessibility guidelines.  More importantly, it will keep your customers happy, and returning.
  • You can’t tab through your site, OR you hit tab and you no longer know where the focus is. The basic accessibility principle here is that your site must be navigable via keyboard and not exclusively relying on using mouse/click to navigate to different elements on the site. Here’s a quick way to check that. Can you use the tab button on the keyboard to move through your menu?  If not, that’s a definite sign your site is not accessible.  A user’s ability to use keyboard shortcuts is vital for a site to be accessible.  Users with a disability that prevents using a mouse, or those who must use blow tubes to navigate a site need elements that can be selected via keyboard and not just click.
  • Low contrast, justified text, and crowded elements can make sites difficult to read and navigate for individuals with vision or motor disabilities.  If elements are too close together, someone who has difficulty using a mouse may struggle with navigation.  Red and green as well as blue and yellow are indistinguishable to individuals with color blindness.  If you’re in doubt, seek guidance from a local disability advocacy group, and, more often than not, they will thank you for reaching out and making sure that your site is accessible to all.
  • Minimal design helps those with cognitive difficulties like ADD, Dyslexia and Autism.  Minimizing the number of elements can help reduce their need to “zoom” and manually reduce the amount of information on a page.  If you think it’s busy, it’s too busy.
  • 2018 is bringing changes in ADA Accessibility / Website Accessibility guidelines, but thankfully, there is technology and experts out there who can bring your site into compliance and create a great user experience for individuals with disabilities. Hopefully these tips can help you determine if your site needs some improvement to make it accessible to all.  More importantly than following the law, a site that is built to accessibility guidelines is a solid website, free of major problems, and actually creates a better experience for all users, not just those with disabilities.

    If you would like more information on bringing your site into compliance with current Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) contact Savvy Sister Marketing today! We Will Help You!

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