The Equality Commission for NI has highlighted six key issues to enhance web accessibility for disabled people. The following is a very useful basic website access check advised by the Commission:
- Keyboard accessibility
Can you tab around the screen? For those who do not use a mouse it is important to be able to access each area of the site. Visually impaired users cannot see a cursor so may have to rely on text-to-speech software to tell them where the focus is on the page. Similarly, those with mobility issues need visual clues as to where they are. Can pop-up windows be closed without using a mouse?
- Colour contrast
For people with visual impairments or reading disability e.g. dyslexia being able to adjust the colours on a screen can be important. Contrast ratios between text and background need to meet minimum standards as set out in WCAG 2.
Headings are one of the most important means of adding structure to a page. As well as providing visual evidence they can be read by a screen reader to aid navigation and understanding of the topic. Pages should be styled by headings and run in an appropriate hierarchical order.
- Alternative text
Pictures on a website are important as they not only enhance the aesthetics of a page but often also depict important information. A text alternative ‘alt text’ allows anyone who cannot see the picture to understand what the picture represents. Automated checkers will search a website to check for alt text on images but cannot tell whether the alt text is appropriate to the context or not, only a human check can do that.
Using a screen reader, can you navigate, understand and input data without being able to see the page. If not you should!
- Downloadable materials
Is the information that you offer for download accessible? Can your PDFs be navigated and read by those using assistive technology? Do they have sufficient colour contrast and allow the reader to customise the colour scheme?
Sincere thanks to Frank Fleming, Manager of the Equality Commission for NI’s Advisory Services Team for this very useful advice. For further details see Frank’s blog.