Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! Did you know that the actions you take on your website can impact whether and how everyone can easily use your website—or even use it at all!
“The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.”
How can you make sure your site is more accessible for people using it? Here’s a list of some things you can do today!
1. Use Alt Text
Every time you upload an image to your WordPress Media Library, fill out the “Alt Text” field. This helps people with vision impairment or browsers that can’t or don’t load images, know what the images on your site are. WebAIM has a great article that goes in-depth on using alt text.
And Don’t Put Text In Images
If you do have text in images (like in a slideshow), you must include that text in the “Alt Text” field. Whenever possible, avoid text in images at all and make it real text that you type into WordPress. This makes your site more accessible and better for search engines!
2. Use Headings
This article has already used two headings (“1. Use Alt Text”) and (“2. Use Headings”). These help all people quickly understand the structure of your page and find the information they’re looking for.
To make headings in WordPress, look for the menu on the left in the second row of buttons in your text editor. Use “Heading 2” for your main page sections and “Heading 3” for subsections of those main sections.
3. Avoid Autoplay & Animated GIFs
Autoplaying videos and sliders makes pages distracting for everyone and impossible to use for people who struggle with focusing. Give people full control to only have things move and play sound on a page when they want them to.
Animated GIFs are also usually on “autoplay.” I love and recommend the WP GIF Player plugin to allow people to play animated GIFs rather than having them always on and looping.
4. Provide Transcripts
If you’ve got audio or video files on your site, do everything you can to provide transcripts and/or closed-captioning. This is one of the most clear-cut cases where not having a transcript means some of your users—those who are hearing impaired—are excluded from accessing a part of your site.
Accessibility Makes the Web Better For Everyone!
A transcript lets a deaf person access a podcast, but it also lets anyone search the transcript, read along with the podcast for comprehension, or read the transcript because the speakers don’t work on their laptop.
Autoplaying things mean some people can’t read anything on your site since the video is too distracting, but nearly everyone has lower comprehension of what they read if there are flashy, scrolly, blinky, moving things on the screen.
Web accessibility is a huge field with lots of techniques and considerations to think through, but you should always be working toward making your site more accessible, even if you only start with a few baby steps.
Take 10 minutes today to write some alt text, turn off autoplay, or write a transcript for your short promo video! The web will be a better place for your efforts!
Bonus: See a Screen Reader in Action
Ever wonder how someone with no vision can use a computer? Here are two great, short videos showing how one person uses his laptop and phone!