User-Friendly Advice for Accessible Web Design

Logo for WebAIMHere at ProfHacker we’ve published a number of posts over the years about accessibility and digital environments. One of my favorite resources for learning more about how to make digital resources usable by the greatest number of people possible is WebAIM (@WebAIM), a non-profit organization based at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. I really like their “Introduction to Web Accessibility,” for example.

WebAIM, in my opinion, provides well-written and very user-friendly advice and instruction for those who want to learn more about accessibility. Below, I’ve selected a few of their resources that explain some of the most common issues concerning this topic.

Alternative Text: “Adding alternative text for images is the first principle of web accessibility. It is also one of the most difficult to properly implement. The key principle is that computers and screen reader software cannot analyze an image and determine what the image presents. As developers, text must be provided to the user which presents both the content and function of the images within your web content.”

Accessible Images: “Most people know that you need to provide alternative text for images. There is much more to the accessibility of an image than just its alt text. There are many additional accessibility principles and techniques regarding images.”

Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions: “Captions are text versions of the spoken word presented within multimedia. Transcripts allow anyone that cannot access content from web audio or video to read a text transcript instead. Audio descriptions provide additional information about what is visible on the screen, allowing video content to be accessible to those with visual disabilities.”

Creating Accessible Tables: “There are two basic uses for tables on the web: data tables and layout tables. A table is a data table when row headers, column headers, or both are present. As for layout tables, it is sometimes suggested that layout tables are bad for accessibility. In reality, layout tables do not pose inherent accessibility issues. People with all kinds of disabilities can easily access layout tables, as long as the tables are designed with accessibility in mind.”

Creating Accessible Forms: “Forms are used for many types of interactions on the web. When we talk about the accessibility of forms, we are usually referring to their accessibility to people who use screen readers or keyboard-only navigation. It should be noted, however, that everyone benefits from a well-organized, highly usable form, especially those with cognitive disabilities.”

How about you? What are your go-to resources for advice about creating accessible digital resources? Please share in the comments.

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