When considering your target demographic, for you or a client’s niche market, do you also consider people with disabilities. The 2000 U.S. Census shows us that 49.7 million people in the U. S. age 5 and over have a disability. If you’re designing and developing for large audience you really need to keep this in mind. Not only are you catering to the disable, but you’re showing other people, and search engines as well, that you care about your audience. Here is a quick breakdown of a few things to consider for web accessibility:
- Alt Attribute – Often referred to as the “Alt Tag”, but it’s not a tag. This attribute is for images and describes to the disabled, using screen readers, what your images are about. It also tells search engines what your images are of as well.
- Access Keys – This helps the disabled navigate easily by using keys. These can be used with a combination of the ALT key and a letter of the alphabet that you assigned to a section of navigation.
- Color Scheme – Make sure your colors contrast. Color blind users need to be able to read text on a contrasting background color. There are many different types of color blindness. Check out Wikipedia to learn more.
- Font Size – Never keep your fonts at a fixed size, and use large fonts. If you’re using CSS, use “em”s or a percentage so users can be flexible in changing the font. Also, make sure it doesn’t break your layout if they do. Use the sliding doors technique for navigation.
- Navigation - Make sure you have your navigation in text and not images. If you must use images make sure your Alt attribute is descriptive.
- Jump To Content – Offer a link at the top for the user to click to jump the content through an anchor. This way screen readers don’t have to keep reading your navigation over and over to the user for each page they visit.
- Languages – Offer your site in different languages. You can achieve this by using Google to translate your page or Geo-targeting with IP addresses.
For more on accessibility check the government’s Section 508