Is Your Website Ready for Disabled Users?
According to Pew Research, more than 20% of American adults self-reported living with a disability. Google estimates that more than 1 billion people in the world suffer from a disability.
Designing your website for your target audience may include being cognizant of disabilities and how to optimize your site for those disabilities (13 million Americans have cognitive difficulties; 11 million have hearing loss; 7 million have vision issues, even with glasses).
Google offers four ideas for better designing your websites for disabilities:
1. Create perceivable content–Color contrast can have a major impact on the vision impaired (including 8% of the population that is color-blind). There is a tool recommended by Google called the Material Design Color Tool to help with selecting higher contrast alternatives for web design. For color-blind people, you need to use visual cues other than color to distinguish actions or clickable areas.
2. Offer more ways to navigate–People with physical disabilities may only use the keyboard to navigate. When you only use keyboard commands, it really changes the user experience. You may also find that some information is not accessible or too difficult to sort through using the keyboard commands.
3. Make sure your site plays well with others–This goes without saying, but make sure your site works with multiple browsers and works with assistive technologies such as screen readers. One way to do this is to add “alt text” to all of the images. Keep info short and focused.
4. You must test your site–Google offers several accessibility test sites to help accomplish this: Google Chrome’s Lighthouse and Accessibility Scanner.
The goal is a more accessible experience. All of the tools are trying to make sites more user-friendly rather than works of art. Even mild vision issues can impact the user experience in a way that will decrease engagement and stop conversions. So the days of tiny gray type on a gray background should end.