Seven simple rules to make the Internet accessible to all
Accessibility in the digital environment is understood as practices for creating digital content and applications that are suitable for use by a wide range of people, including those who suffer from visual impairments, motor functions, hearing, speech, or cognitive abilities.
There is a false belief that making a website accessible is possible only by investing a lot of effort and money, but this is not necessary. If you design the project from the very beginning, taking into account the relevant requirements, you do not need to add any special functions and content, and therefore there will be no additional costs.
If it is a matter of correcting the errors on an existing site, then some effort will have to be made here. When I worked at Carbon Health, we once checked the site for availability with the help of a special extension in Chrome . Already on the main page there were 28 violations, which had to be eliminated. At first glance, it seemed that this would be a very laborious process, but it soon became clear that making corrections would not be so difficult - you just need to invest time and understand the basics. We managed to reduce the number of violations to zero in just a couple of days.
I want to share some simple steps that we have taken and that are possible, will help you. These principles are designed, first of all, for mobile and web applications. But before we start, let's find out why.
filed 814 lawsuits related to the availability of websites. Already these two facts convincingly demonstrate to us the importance of this issue.
In addition, availability is advantageous and from the point of view of business : research shows that available sites rank higher in search results, have good SEO indicators, load faster, stimulate the practice of writing better code, and always have excellent usability.
These seven rules are relatively easy to implement and will allow you to bring the product to the AA level using the system. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), making it compatible with key supporting technologies, including screen savers, screen magnifiers and speech recognition tools.
1. Make the colors fairly contrast
Contrast colors - one of the problems of accessibility sites, which are often forgotten. People with poor eyesight, probably, will hardly be able to disassemble the text if it does not contrast sufficiently with the background. It is estimated that the World Health Organization (WHO) cites in his document on visual defects and blindness , the ratio of the brightness of the text and background should be at least 4.5: 1 (to match the level of AA). For larger and fatty fonts, allowances are allowed - they are easier to distinguish even with low contrast. If the text size is 14-18pt or more, the threshold is reduced to 3: 1.
There are tools that will help you quickly check the contrast. For those who work on Mac, I advise you to get the application Contrast - it allows you to instantaneously calculate the ratio using a pipette. If you want a more detailed evaluation, I recommend you enter the desired value in tool to check the contrast from WebAIM. He will calculate the ratio for different font sizes and set the correspondence to to different levels (A, AA, AAA). By changing the values, you can get the result in real time.
Source: WCAG Visual Contrast
2. Do not rely solely on color to convey critical information
When you try to tell the user something important - to show an example of an action or to provoke a reaction, do not make color the only visual marker. People with reduced visual acuity or color blind will be hard at perceiving your content.
Try to supplement the color with some other indicator - for example, a signature or a texture. When you display an error message on the screen, do not just use the color selection of the text - add an icon or a title to the window. Also, think about using bold or underlined fonts so that links in the text are immediately evident.
Elements with more complex information structure - say, graphics - are especially difficult to perceive when data types are separated only by color. Use other visual aspects to convey information - shape, size and explanatory text. You can add patterns to the fill to make the difference more obvious. Version of Trello for colorblinds - an excellent example of the application of this rule. If you switch to this mode, the labels become universally intelligible by adding textures.
There is a good way: print the schedule on a black and white printer and see if everything will be clear to you. In addition, you can use special applications like Color Oracle , which in real time show how the content will look for people with the most common violations of color perception. All this will help you make sure that the information on your website is not too tied up in color.
Source: WCAG Visual Contrast Without Color
3. Select the active elements
Have you noticed the blue frame that sometimes appears around links, fields and buttons? Such a frame is called the focus indicator. By default, PHP uses a CSS pseudo-class to display it on elements when clicked on. Perhaps, it seems to you not too cute and you would prefer to simply remove it. However, if you decide to get rid of the default style, be sure to provide some replacement.
The focus indicators help people understand which element can now be interacted with the keyboard and where they are in the page structure. They are useful for blind people who use screen readers, people with motor disabilities or carpal tunnel syndrome and advanced users who prefer this type of navigation. Well and plus to that, many of us basically prefer to be engaged in Internet-surfing on the keyboard!
Elements that must visually emphasize the active state include: links, form fields, widgets, buttons and items in the menu. All of them need indicators that will distinguish them among the surrounding elements.
You can design the indicators so that they look good in the style of your site and are combined with the image of the brand. Make active markers easily visible, with high contrast, so that they can be clearly seen among other content.
Source: W3C Focus Visible
4. Add captions and instructions to the input fields
One of the grossest errors in creating forms is to leave explanatory signatures in the fields themselves, so that they disappear when entering data. When there is not enough space on the screen or you want to give the design a minimalist, modern look, temptation is great - but do not do it. Text in the form fields is usually gray and not enough contrast, it is difficult to read. And people like me also forget halfway that they generally printed, so the disappearing signature deprives us of all chances to understand.
People who use screen readers, usually move around the form with the Tab key, moving from one controller to another. Label elements are read for each of them. The rest of the text, which does not apply to them (the same explanatory inscriptions inside the fields) are usually skipped.
Always take care that people understand what to do with the form and what to write in it. It is best if the signatures remain visible even during the input process - a person should have a context before his eyes when filling out the fields. Hiding signatures and instructions for the form, designers in pursuit of the simplicity of sacrifice usability .
This does not mean that you need to clutter the screen with useless information - just make sure that you have the most important clues available. Overabundance of data can bring no less problems than their shortcoming. Your goal is to provide information in such a large amount that the user can perform the operation without a hitch.
Source: WebAIM Creating Accessible Forms
5. Register informative alternative descriptions to images and other non-text elements
People with poor eyesight often use screen readers to "listen" to the Internet. They transform the text into sounding speech, giving the opportunity to listen to everything that is written on the site.
An alternative description can be represented in two ways:
In the alt attribute of the picture element is
In the nearest context or in the accompanying text to the image
Try to describe what is happening in the image and how it relates to the general meaning, and not just get rid of the "picture" comment. Context is extremely important.
If the image is added exclusively for beauty or what it expresses is duplicated in the text, you can add an attribute and leave it blank - in this case the screenreader will skip it. When the alternative text is not registered at all, some screensreaders will read the file name. Nothing worse for the user experience can not imagine.
Google is now working on solution based on artificial intelligence , which generates captions to pictures with an accuracy of 94%. The code is in the public domain and is still in the process of finalization. I hope that soon we will see how this solution will be applied in various products. And until then, you should manually prescribe the meaning and purpose of pictures in the context of the rest of the content.
Source: W3C Using Alt Attributes
6. Use themarkup correctly.
Headings mark the beginning of the content block - these are a kind of tags that determine the style and purpose of the text. In addition, the headers specify the content hierarchy on the page.
The large font in the headers allows the user to better understand the structure of the information. Screen readers also rely on headers when reading content. Thus, people with poor eyesight get an idea of the overall appearance of the page, listening to the headings in a hierarchical sequence.
When designing a site, it is necessary to use the correct structural elements, HTML elements transmit to the browser information about what type of content is carried and what actions to take with it. It is the components and structure of the page that form the browser's accessibility tree, with which screeners for visually impaired people work.
Incorrect markup has a bad effect on availability. Do not limit the use of HTML tags stylistic effects. The screenwriters are guided by a page based on the hierarchical structure of the headers - real headlines, and not just text that is made bigger and fatter. With their help, users can listen to a full list of headers, skip content blocks, guided by the type of the header, or go to the navigation on the headings of the first level (h1).
Source: WebAIM Semantic Structure
7. Support the keypad control
The ability to perform operations using the keyboard is one of the main components of availability in web design. People with impaired coordination of movements and muscle tone, blind, those who use screen readers, and even some advanced users rely on the keyboard when navigating the site.
Perhaps you, like me, use the Tab key to navigate to the necessary interactive elements of the page: links, buttons, input fields. The active state indicator, which we mentioned above, allows you to visually emphasize the element that is selected at the moment.
When navigating the page, the sequence in which the user interacts with the elements is extremely important, so navigation should be logical and intuitive. The order of the transition must correspond to the direction of the glance: from left to right, from top to bottom, first the main navigation, then the buttons that hide the content, and the forms, and finally the footer.
A good practice is to test the site using only the keyboard. Go from the link to the link and from the field to the field with the Tab key. Check if it's convenient to select an item by pressing Enter. Make sure that all components are aligned in the correct sequence and that their appearance is predictable. If you can go through all the pages without touching the mouse, then you are doing well!
One more thing. Carefully consider the volumes in the navigation system - this refers to the number of links, and the size of the text. Going through all the items on the long list can make people with motor disabilities tiring, and people who use the screen reader will quickly get tired of listening to long text links. Try to be laconic. Appendix markers from ARIA or HTML 5 structure elements (for example, main or nav) will also simplify page navigation.
A source: W3C Keyboard
What else can you do
These rules are a good starting point, but if you want to do something else to improve accessibility, I would recommend:
Carry out an audit for availability. Use a special service to find out if your product does not come into conflict with the means of rehabilitation and whether it satisfies the requirements of the AA level. Make the necessary changes based on the results and repeat the test.
Appoint an auditor. You can instruct one of the employees to conduct similar audits on a regular basis - for example, someone from the testing team. If people with the necessary experience do not, you can contact an outside specialist.
Consider accessibility factors when collecting information. When doing research, check if your assumptions about availability are confirmed, and look for opportunities to refine something. To attract people with disabilities to work is somewhat more difficult. Do not hesitate to contact us at association and community - Usually there are happy to help.
That's it. These were the seven rules that will help you bring the site to an approximate AA level of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines .
I am still working to make the design more accessible, and I myself try to follow the principles that I preach to others. Earlier it seemed to me that this is all too complicated and still does not matter much. But I was wrong. I suggest you also start the process using these rules and continue the conversation about why accessibility is important.
Promoting practices that provide accessibility is the responsibility of designers. With their help, we open the way to technology for all people, regardless of their capabilities, standard of living, age, education and residence. Be responsible for the design. Thank you!
WebAIM - articles, resources and practical tasks on the topic of accessibility in web design
" 7 things that a designer should know about the availability of "- an excellent article from Salesforce with accurate observations
UCLA Disabilities and Computing Program - The site, of course, is not the most beautiful and modern, but it is very rich in resources
UX Myths - an extensive list of misconceptions in the UX design with refutations; some of them address the problems of accessibility
Color Accessibility Workflows - here is Geri Coady visually demonstrates how to get to the point with the selection of colors
W3C - bible availability in web design, from the abundance of materials you can even get lost. But when you figure out the structure, you will find excellent examples, tips and resources.
WebAIM Color Contrast Checker - an intelligent tool for checking the contrast, produces a result immediately after input and for different text sizes
Inclusive Components - a library of textures, designed in the form of a blog. Particular attention is paid to issues of affordable design. In each post, an analysis of some common interface component is carried out and a more reliable and accessible variant of its design is offered.
Color Oracle - Free color blindness simulator, adapted for Windows, Mac and Linux. In real time, it shows how people with common color impairments see it.
Vox Product Accessibility Guidelines - A complete list of requirements for designers, developers and project managers
AX Google Chrome Extension - check any site for violations of accessibility principles with the help of an inspector for Chrome
Contrast - application for Mac, which gives instant access to the norms of the ratio of brightness from WGAG.
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