How to make your small business’ website accessible
In a previous blog post we wrote about the importance of making sure that your small business is complainant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA). The upcoming and recently past AODA compliance dates are concerned with ensuring your physical space is accessible for all customers and employees; it is equally important that your business’s digital space is also accessible. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets international guidelines for websites called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
AODA requires all large organizations to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA by January 1, 2020. However, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the requirements. Since small businesses and home businesses rely heavily on their web presence to attract new customers and deliver services, it is a smart move. By making your website fully accessible, you are appealing to and will be able to attract the broadest range of clients.
Some of the most important aspects of making your website accessible include:
Text alternatives – For web content that is presented in an audio, video or image format, make sure you also have an alternative version that is text only. Screen readers will be able to relay all of the content on a page for users who are visually impaired. For video in general it is ideal to have an option for closed captions and audio descriptions for the hearing impaired.
Re-sizeable text – When web content is text, it is important that the default setting is large and that the user is able to re-size the text so it can be read easily without losing any of the meaning.
Keyboard accessible – Users may be accessing your site using different methods or devices to navigate your website. Ensuring that your website is navigable using a keyboard, keyboard and mouse and touch screen is best.
Navigation – Having proper titles, headings, labels and clearly marked links will help users easily navigate your website and find the content they are looking for.
Contact – If a user is having an issue accessing your website content, make sure that there is a clear link showing how they can contact your business or web master by phone or e-mail, so that they can get assistance.
Simple language – Making your content as easy to read as possible includes using clear and simple language and sentence structures.
Simple layout – Lay out your content in a way that makes it easier to digest by having text that is broken up into readable chunks in set columns and avoid using difficult to read colour palettes.
Backwards compatibility – Visitors may be accessing your website through different devices and web browsers with older versions. Making sure that your website supports multiple browsers, especially older versions, will ensure everyone can access your page.
For more information on WCAG 2.0 compliance visit their website.