The content that you make available on your website should be accessible to the widest range of people and devices as possible. Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. The content that you make available on your website should be accessible to the widest range of people and devices as possible.
Not everyone accesses the web in the same manner. While an overwhelming portion of those visiting your website may do so with a standard monitor-keyboard-mouse setup, along with a reliable internet connection, there are those who may use a different setup. It is therefore your responsibility to make sure that the information is accessible to individuals regardless of the technology used.
Individuals with visual impairments will often rely on screen readers or magnifiers to read the content you provide. Those with hearing impairments might rely on captioning or transcripts of audio/visual content. A person with a cognitive disability will rely on how you organize your content to better understand the information you are trying to convey.
However, accessibility does not just pertain to physical and mental disabilities. Being accessible also means ensuring that, regardless of the technological limitations of your website visitor's device, your information is still available to them. Individuals on slower internet connections, like those who may live in rural areas, depend on your website's ability to load information quickly. This means making sure your pages do not contain large amounts of multimedia, such as superfluous imagery.
Note: Failure to comply with accessibility guidelines is in violation of US law covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 504 and Section 508) and can lead to legal complaints and lawsuits that can be financially crippling and extremely damaging to your organization. HSC ITS reserves the right to remove any content violating UR Accessibility Guidelines.
Types of Disabilities #
- Visual impairments include blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, and various types of color blindness. A person with a visual impairment will often rely on screen readers or magnifiers to read the content you provide.
- Auditory, or hearing, impairment is a permanent or fluctuating impairment in hearing, including deafness. A person with a hearing impairment might rely on captioning or transcripts of audio or audio playing in a video presented on a page.
- Motor impairment is the partial or total loss of function of a body part, usually a limb or limbs, caused by injury, congenital conditions, tremors, or stroke. A person with a motor impairment may rely on only using a keyboard, typically by using the Tab key, to navigate through pages within your website. All websites hosted by HSC Information Technology Services are able to be navigated using a keyboard. (Last statement needs work.)
- Cognitive impairment is a decline in cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, or ability to interpret information. This is caused by conditions such as dyslexia, autism, and dyscalculia (difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic). A person with a cognitive disability will rely on consistent and logical navigation, clearly written and well-organized content, and use of a language level that allows all users to understand information. Also, flashing and flickering media and text should always be avoided.
Benefits of Accessible Content #
- More Viewers: The more users that can understand and access your content; the more users you are likely to reach. Don't lose the consideration of prospective students that can’t access your content.
- Mobile friendly: Keeping your content concise and well-organized will benefit users using mobile devices.
- Loyal users (consumers): In a competitive web environment filled with inaccessible content, accessible websites will benefit from the loyalty of a growing disabled community, accounting for approximately 20% or 1.2 billion people globally.
- Search Engine Optimization: Web accessibility standards often parallel the requirements for SEO. While aiding assistive technology users, well-structured websites also tend to achieve higher search rankings than sites designed without accessibility considerations in mind.
Tips for Accessibility #
Throughout this guide, tips are provided for using the tools in Umbraco to help make sure your content is as accessible as possible. Look for these boxes at the bottom of each page. However, keep these general ideas in mind as you begin to prepare your content for your website:
- Is your content organized in a logical manner?
- Keep individual content pages focused on one over-arching concept.
- Structure page content in a logic order.
- Make use of Headings and Subheadings and do so in their proper order to provide an outline to assistive technology.
- Try to ensure that a person can quickly scan a page and get the general idea of what the page is trying to convey.
- Avoid overly-technical jargon, when possible.
- If you have decided to use multimedia on your site, have you provided alternatives to the content expressed in those pieces?
- When adding imagery to your page, make sure you provide Alternative Text describing what is contained in the image.
- Avoid uploading large images that might take a visitor a long time to download. Use image editing software (if available) to reduce images to a reasonable size and optimize the images before uploading.
- If you are using audio or video sources, provide captioning or transcripts, or some other methods of expressing the information contained in the multimedia.
- If you are uploading a PDF to your site, make sure it is accessible by checking it using Adobe Acrobat's built in accessibility tools.