Guidelines for Websites

The growth of the World Wide Web means that many people with a disability now have the opportunity to enjoy a wealth of information and services that were previously unavailable to them. Unfortunately many sites are unusable by people with a disability simply because they are inappropriately designed.

Things to consider:

  • Many people who are Blind or vision impaired read web pages with the assistance of Synthesised speech software that reads the content of web pages aloud through a speaker, or Braille software that prints the content on a Braille display so that the web page can be read by touch.
  • People with low vision usually read web pages in exactly the same way as fully sighted people: with their eyes. However the needs of people with poor sight vary considerably. Some people require large text, while others can read only smaller letters. Most need a highly contrasting colour scheme, and some have very specific needs, for example yellow text on a black background. To cater for everyone, websites should be flexible in design, enabling individual users to use their own browser to adjust the text and colour settings to suit their own particular needs and circumstances.
  • Many people who are Deaf or hearing impaired can not hear multimedia or audio on a site so it is important to include captions or transcripts of any audio on the site. Content-related images in pages full of text, can also be helpful for the people whose first language is not English, but sign language.
  • People with a physical disability may have difficulty operating a mouse and/or a keyboard so they might use special keyboards or spoken input to replace these. Never use small or moving target as links, instead offer additional plain text links.
  • For people with an intellectual or learning disability it is important to avoid unnecessary use of complex language and to ensure that the site is clear and consistent. Some people may rely more on graphics or symbols to enhance understanding of a site or to assist in understanding page content. Distracting visual or audio elements should be able to be easily turned off.

Accessible pages needn’t be boring! They can be well designed, attractive and interactive, while at the same time providing access for everyone.

Whenever possible, ask a range of people with various abilities and disabilities to test your pages and give you feedback.

For detailed information about accessible web design go to Web Accessibility Guidelines www.w3.org/WAI/

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