6 Things I Learned about Web Accessibility

Extremely short and steep wheelchair ramp

Accessibility is one of the unrealized civil rights fights of the 21st century. In the physical world the Americans with Disability Act (ADA Homepage) helps ensure that people living with disabilities can achieve the highest level of independence possible. Want to know what it feels like? Read this article, “How Wheelchair Accessibility Ramped Up“.

Unfortunately, the digital world is a minefield of frustrations for people with visual or motor disabilities. Many common web tools work poorly in screen readers, schools send audio or video messages to parents without transcripts or captions, and newsletters printed to PDF from common applications bounce users with disabilities randomly based on the order text boxes and images where added to a document.

The good news is that there are more ways than ever before to help you build the wheelchair ramp of the 21st century. Here is a quick list of things that I’ve learned.

  1. Use CamelCase in hashtags. #AccessibilityIsAwesome will allow most screen readers to parse the words instead of spelling out your hashtags.
  2. Use descriptive links
    1. Most screen readers say link before each link, so you don’t need to repeat yourself in the description.
    2. Many screen readers allow you to tab between links. Take the time to make sure your links make sense out of context.
  3. Use Image Alt Text
    1. Any images that are used for spacing or toolbars should have an empty alt tag, which will be skipped by most screen readers.
    2. While there is not a standard, 125 characters is considered the max length that should be used in an alt tag.
  4. Use Semantic Web Tags Correctly
    1. The correct use of heading, or H<> tags can allow for easy navigation of your content.
    2. Use lists correctly.
  5. Use Accessibility Tools in Office
    1. Video on Making Office documents Accessible
  6. Use Video Captions and Transcriptions for All Media
    1. Making captions and transcripts at Rev.com is a quick and very affordable way to achieve this.

Be on the right side of history and learn about web accessibility.

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