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Take a look at some of the most popular websites on the Internet and you’ll see what amounts to a nightmare for people with problems seeing or using human interface devices. It’s not easy to spot these problems if you don’t put yourself in the shoes of someone who has a disability. Some of the considerations you’ll want to take into account when you’re designing a website should include whether or not a part of your audience is likely to have disabilities that make using websites either more difficult or simply a bit different for them in most situations.
People with visual impairments can still use the Internet, though it’s much more difficult for them, depending upon the degree to which their eyesight is compromised. The first and most obvious way to accommodate such audiences is to make certain that your typographic selections are appropriate. Fonts that are unadorned and simple are much easier for people to read if they have a visual impairment. Solid, black fonts on light colored backgrounds are much easier to read than white on black or color on black schemes.
People who have difficulty seeing sometimes have difficulty determining what part of the text they’re reading is actually a link. It’s important to make this apparent, as some of these visitors will be using text reading devices to navigate the site. Consider the following two links and how difficult each would be if you are using a text to speech tool to read to you what’s printed on the webpage and to find the link.
- Option one: More information is available from our retail page.
- Option two: To visit our retail page for more information, click here.
If you were using a text-to-speech tool, it would be pretty apparent that you would click on the words “click here” to get to the desired page. In the first example, it would be equally likely that the words “more information” or “our retail page” would be linked from most websites. This can make the first type of linking strategy extremely frustrating for people who have a hard time seeing a screen or, in some cases, who have a hard time differentiating between the text colors used for links and normal text.
Check Your Colors
Even people without severe disabilities sometimes have some degree of color blindness. Make certain that your website isn’t using text and background combinations that are going to leave people wondering what they’re supposed to be looking at. The most obvious example would be putting text that is a shade of red on a background that is a shade of green. What you’re essentially doing with such a color scheme is creating a roadblock for a great many people.
If you have multimedia content that you’re using to promote yourself or that you simply want to share with your audience, make certain that you offer it in a form that is accessible to people with disabilities. For example, if you have a podcast where you give great information that a lot of people would find useful, get a transcript made. If it’s important information, reaching the broadest possible audience means offering it in as many forms as possible.
Flashy designs are great, but make sure that your audience has the option to use something a bit more subdued. As just an example of how much a very flashy design can affect your audience’s experience at your website, consider trying to read a website with rapidly scrolling text if you had dyslexia. If you’re going to include elements that change images, text or other parts of your page, make certain that the user has some way to pause, slow down or otherwise adjust the site so that they can use it.
Remember that your audience figures heavily into how accessible you need to make your site. As a very simple example of this, a website that was intended to reach out to teenagers doesn’t have to worry so much about hard to read fonts as a website that was intended to reach out to senior citizens. Consider your audience when you consider your design.
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