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What are some of the best accessibility practises when building a new website

In today's digital landscape, creating inclusive and accessible websites is not only a moral responsibility but also a legal requirement in many countries. As users and builders of tomorrow’s internet, it is essential to prioritise accessibility to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and interact with all websites seamlessly. In this article, we will explore some of the best accessibility practices to incorporate when building a new website.

Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) serve as a global standard for making websites accessible to all, including people with disabilities. They provide valuable guidelines and success criteria to ensure that web content is user-friendly and accommodating for everyone. When building a new website or refreshing an old one, it's essential to keep up with the latest version (WCAG 2.3 coming out soon) and aim for at least Level AA compliance. These guidelines cover various aspects, like making content easy to perceive, ensuring smooth navigation, keeping things understandable, and building robust websites that work well with different technologies. By embracing WCAG, we create a more inclusive online world where everyone can access and interact with digital content, making the web a better place for all users!

Create Semantic HTML

To ensure a more accessible and user-friendly website, it's crucial to employ semantic HTML elements for organising your content logically. By correctly using heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.), lists, paragraphs, and semantic elements (such as <header>, <nav>, <main>, <footer>), you enable screen readers and other assistive technologies to navigate your website more effectively. These elements provide meaningful structure and context, making it easier for users with disabilities to understand and interact with your content, ultimately enhancing the overall accessibility of your website.

Implement Alt Text for Images

When adding images to your website, remember to include descriptive alternative text (alt text) that effectively conveys the image's content and purpose. Alt text is invaluable for users with visual impairments, as it provides a textual description of the image. Beyond accessibility benefits, incorporating alt text also enhances your website's SEO by providing valuable context to search engines, ensuring that your content reaches a broader audience. By prioritising alt text, you create a more inclusive and search engine-friendly website experience for all visitors.

Provide Captions and Transcripts for Media

To make your videos and audio content accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing, it's essential to include captions. Captions provide a text-based representation of the spoken content, enabling these users to follow along and understand the multimedia content. Furthermore, consider providing text transcripts for your videos and audio, as this alternative format allows all users, including those with disabilities, to access the information presented in a convenient and inclusive manner. By offering both captions and transcripts, you ensure that your multimedia content can be enjoyed and understood by a broader audience, reinforcing the accessibility and inclusivity of your website.

Design with Keyboard Navigation in Mind

It is crucial to guarantee that all interactive elements and navigation on your website are fully accessible and operable through keyboard input. Remember that not all users can use a mouse or touch screen to navigate your site, making proper keyboard navigation an essential aspect of accessibility. By ensuring keyboard compatibility, you create a more inclusive and user-friendly experience, empowering individuals with disabilities to interact seamlessly with your content and features.

Test with Screen Readers and Other Assistive Technologies

Regularly testing your website with popular screen readers and assistive technologies is vital to identify and address potential accessibility barriers effectively. By doing so, you gain valuable insights into how users with visual impairments experience your site, enabling you to make necessary improvements and create a more inclusive digital environment. Embracing this testing approach demonstrates your commitment to providing an accessible user experience for all visitors, regardless of their abilities.

Maintain Colour Contrast

To ensure optimal readability for users with low vision or colour blindness, it's crucial to maintain sufficient colour contrast between text and background elements. This simple yet essential step enhances accessibility, making your content more legible and user-friendly for all visitors. Utilise online tools to check colour contrast ratios and ensure compliance with WCAG guidelines, guaranteeing that your website meets the highest standards of accessibility. By prioritising colour contrast, you create a welcoming and inclusive environment, catering to a broader audience and improving the overall user experience on your site.

Avoid Relying on Colour Alone

Avoid relying solely on colour to convey important information on your website. Instead, incorporate additional cues, such as icons or text labels, to ensure that all users can easily understand and interact with your content. This inclusive approach guarantees that individuals with visual impairments or colour deficiencies can access and engage with your information seamlessly, fostering a more user-friendly and accessible experience for everyone.

Enable Resizable Text

Another important thing is to allow users the flexibility to resize text without causing any disruption to the layout or functionality of your website. Indeed, some users may require larger text for improved readability, and preventing them from adjusting the text size can negatively impact their user experience. By enabling text resizing, you empower all visitors to tailor the content to their preferences, creating a more accommodating and user-centric digital space.

Design Accessible Forms

When designing forms on your website, it is vital to ensure proper association and markup of all form elements, including input fields, labels, and error messages. This ensures that screen readers and assistive technologies can interpret the form accurately, making it accessible to users with disabilities. Additionally, provide clear instructions and guidance within the form to help users complete it correctly. By prioritising these elements, you create a more user-friendly and inclusive form experience, allowing all visitors to interact with your website seamlessly, regardless of their abilities.

In conclusion, by incorporating these accessibility practices into your website development process, you create a more inclusive digital space where all users can access and interact with your content effectively. Emphasising accessibility not only benefits users with disabilities but also improves the overall user experience and widens your website's reach. As developers, it is our duty to champion accessibility and make the Internet a more inclusive place for everyone.

Remember, accessibility is an ongoing effort, and staying informed about the latest guidelines and best practices is crucial for ensuring your website remains accessible as technology and user needs evolve.


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