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The 10 Commandments of Accessible Web Design

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1285567_47204391Accessibility in web design is just as important as it is in every other facet of your business. You’ve taken the proper steps to ensure that your brick and mortar business is accessible to all, so why not fine tune your website to make it more accessible? Accessible web design isn’t difficult. It simply requires a deliberate approach. Plan ahead and work closely with your web designer to make sure your website design is accessible to those with visual, motor, mobility, auditory, cognitive, intellectual disabilities and those who suffer from seizures.

The following commandments will help you improve your website’s accessibility:

1.Focus on structure. Headings, lists, data tables, markup, style sheets, resizable text and bypass blocks are all critical aspects of your website’s structure.

2.Provide text alternatives for non-textual content such as images, audio and video. Make sure they perform an equivalent purpose for the user. If you can, include multiple ways of providing alternatives for users. Don’t forget to add alternatives to CAPTCHAs, images of text and other decorative content.

3.Identify hyperlinks and contents. Make sure the purpose of links, page titles, form labels and section headings are all clearly identified. Opening new windows and the language of pages and parts are also key considerations to work out with your web designer.

4.Make all functionalities of your website keyboard accessible. Go through your site with your designer to make sure there are no keyboard traps or unexpected behaviors. Look for drop down menus, accordions and carousels. All of these elements need to be accessible. As you work on these considerations, focus on improving order and visibility.

5.Don’t depend on a single sense. Instead, use captions and audio descriptions. Integrate color, contrast and background audio into the design to make your site accessible to those with sensory limitations.

6.Avoid sudden or unexpected interferences in your design. Seizures or flashes on the screen, new windows opening, blinking, moving or auto-updating features can all be challenging to some users.

7.Give users enough time to interact with your website’s elements by making the timing adjustable. Automatic redirections and banners can be difficult for some users if you don’t allow enough time for interaction.

8.Ensure compatibility with web standards and code validation. Work with your designer to ensure the accessible use of technologies. Your designer will be able to perform user tests and can help integrate accessible rich internet applications into your site.

9.Help users avoid mistakes by including labels and instructions. Good information structure can help with error identification, error suggestion and error prevention.

10.Make navigation interfaces consistent by working with your designer to ensure consistent identification and including multiple navigation options. Also, improving your overall information structure will go a long way towards making navigation interfaces more consistent.

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