What is The Difference Between Inaccessible and Accessible Websites?

Research suggests that, almost, 20% of Americans face challenges when it comes to web experience. Considering the tough ADA compliance standards introduced in 2013, it’s important for websites to understand the subtle differences between accessible and inaccessible websites.

No Text Equivalents for Images
People with impaired vision, or blindness, often take the aid of technology for digital accessibility. Two, such, commonly known technologies are Braille displays and screen readers. A Braille display translates the text on a website into Braille characters, which can be read by touch. Screen readers, on the other hand, are programs that read the text on the screen, out loud, starting from the top-left corner.

Both these technologies, though wonderful, are limited in their use. For example, if the website has been designed such that it contains images, then both these technologies will be unable to provide interpretation. So, a blind person visiting the website will be unable to tell if the image is a picture, map, infographic or a blank page.

To bypass this problem, and make the website ADA compliant, text equivalents to every image need to be included in the website design.

2. Documents Are Not In Text Based Formats

Documents are often posted, on websites, in Portable Document Format (PDF). PDF formats are, at times, inaccessible to people with impaired visions for they may contain images and images, as I said earlier, cannot be interpreted by screen readers and Braille displays.

In order for websites to be ADA compliant, it is important to always provide documents in alternative text-based formats such as RTF or HTML.

3. Set In Stone Color and Font Settings

It’s understandable for website designers to have certain aesthetic preferences in mind when designing websites. For example, a website design might include text that is in a small font and colored yellow. But doing this will might make the website non-ADA compliant, for the website designer missed an important detail: he assumed that all people view websites in the same way.

Users with impaired visions need to be able to change the color schemes on the web pages. For example, people with weak visions need high contrast settings, which might not be common for websites. So, it’s important for the website design to be such that it can be viewed with the color and font sizes set in the users’ web browser preferences. Not will this provide maximum accessibility to those with weak visions, but also make your website ADA compliant.

4. Videos Are Inaccessible

It’s common for websites, nowadays, to carry multiple videos on web pages. However, it needs to be ensured that the videos can be accessed by everyone. For example, a blind person can only access the video through audio while a deaf person can access it through sight, only.

To ensure digital accessibility, provide complete audio descriptions of the images and, at the same time, provide text captions or subtitles so that videos can be accessed by, both, the blind and the deaf.

Website designers, nowadays, need to ensure digital accessibility for people belonging to all kinds of disabilities falling under the ADA. When you consider the fact that failure to comply can result into lawsuits, it seems imperative for designers to pay heed to how their website designs go with the ADA compliance laws.

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