How to Ensure Your Website is Accessible for the Visually Impaired

by | Aug, 2019

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, 26.9 million adult Americans report having trouble seeing, even with glasses or contacts, or they are completely blind. Any visual impairment can make it extremely difficult for someone using a computer to interpret what they see. It’s important that your website is accessible to the visually impaired. 

To ensure your website is accessible, follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and create user interface design and visual design using the most accessible and easy-to-interpret methods possible to assist the visually impaired. Below are some best practices to follow.

Provide Sufficient Contrast between Foreground and Background: If foreground texts and background colors are too similar, they can be difficult to read. Use recommended “Contrast ratio” for images, buttons, and other elements, but not for logos or text in a photograph.

Don’t Use Color Alone to Convey Information: In addition to using colors to differentiate elements, also use symbols (e.g. asterisk, bullet point, dashes), numbers, or labels to show differentiation between elements, areas, graphs, etc. Adding a pattern to a color is another useful method. 

Make Sure Interactive Elements Are Easy to Identify: For easy identification, change the appearance of links on mouse over, keyboard focus, and touchscreen activation.

Provide Clear and Consistent Navigation Options: Have clear navigation options by using consistent naming, styling, and positioning. Also use multiple methods of website navigation in addition to orientation cues, like breadcrumbs and clear headings.

Make Sure That Form Elements Include Clearly Associated Labels: All fields should have a descriptive label with minimum space between labels and fields.

Provide Easily Identifiable Feedback: Make feedback (confirmation, alerts, notification) easily identifiable. Feedback needing user action should use a prominent style.

Use Headings and Spacing to Group Related Content: Using whitespace, proximity, and style headings to group related content will help provide clarity.

Create Designs for Different Viewport Sizes: Change position and presentation of main elements (e.g. header, navigation) to optimize use of space. Adjusting text size and line width will maximize readability.

Include Image and Media Alternatives in Your Design: Use alternatives for images and media such as visible links to transcripts of audio, text with icons and buttons, and captions / descriptions for tables and graphs.

Provide Controls for Content That Starts Automatically: Use clearly visible controls to let users stop animation, auto-playing sound, carousels, and videos.

We found these tips to help you meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements in the article Tips for Getting Started – Designing for Web Accessibility. Read the article for more detailed information on how to make your website accessible to the visually impaired. 


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