With more than one billion people worldwide living with a disability, the need for online accessibility is urgent - and growing every day.
This means that now more than ever, it’s important to learn how to make your website accessible for the visually impaired - and ensure that everyone is able to enjoy your content.
Thankfully, there are a whole host of new tools out there to help you evaluate the accessibility of your website and quickly implement changes that will make your site a joy to use for people living with colour blindness, short-sightedness, cataracts or any other kind of vision impairment.
Today, we’ll be exploring eight of our favourite online accessibility tools, and walking you through how you can use them to build a website that delivers an exceptional user experience for people living with disabilities.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at why it’s so crucial to design a website that’s as accessible and inclusive as it is beautiful.
Why is online accessibility so important?
An accessible website ensures that everyone gets the same treatment. If you don’t think about online accessibility when designing your website, you’re excluding more than 15% of the world’s population from using it. That’s a huge number of potential users down the drain!
Here are some of the other benefits you’ll reap from prioritising accessibility:
#1 Improve your brand’s reputation
If you want to be seen as a brand who truly cares about all your customers, you have to earn that reputation.
Ensuring that all of your customers can enjoy your website equally should be viewed not as an optional extra, but as the foundation of your web design.
#2 Protect yourself from possible legal proceedings
The recently updated ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sees inaccessible websites as a form of discrimination against people with disabilities.
The number of lawsuits against businesses with inaccessible websites is growing, so make sure you abide by these laws by doing all you can to ensure your website is usable for all - or risk paying out.
#3 An accessible website is more engaging for everyone
For your customers without disabilities, making ‘accessibility tweaks’ to your website (e.g. resizing text, adding video subtitles, or using a stand-out colour palette) can create a far more enjoyable user experience all-round, causing more of your customers to want to come back to your site for more. This is one of the reasons why Google ranks accessible websites more highly.
#4 Improve your SEO
While much of Google’s algorithm remains a mystery to modern Marketers, it’s no secret that Google consistently ranks accessible websites more highly than others.
So, if you’re looking to earn yourself a top spot on Google’s SERPs, you’ll need to prioritise designing a website that’s accessible in both design and functionality.
The 6 Best Tools for Improving Website Accessibility
NoCoffee is a vision simulator that allows you to see your site from the perspective of someone who is visually impaired.
This tool is extremely useful for helping you understand the problems faced by people with slight to extreme vision problems, such as low acuity, low contrast sensitivity, colour blindness, cataracts, nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movement), and obstructed visual fields.
NoCoffee helps you put yourself in your visually impaired customers’ shoes. This way, you’ll find it far easier to identify and fix any problems which might be preventing someone from using your website effectively.
We created our online voice recording and messaging platform to allow customers and brands to speak to each other asynchronously - using voice - via the company’s website!
When customers record a quick message for a company on their website (at just the click of a button), brands receive these voice messages from their customers in a ‘voice inbox’, where they can listen to and reply to their customers by voice.
Our voice-first tool allows businesses to engage people living with vision impairment, or with other conditions - such as arthritis, Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis - that make it difficult or impossible to type.
Our voice-first platform can easily be used to supplement your customer support channels, conversational marketing efforts, and to drive sales by better nurturing your leads.
#3 Color Safe
Did you know that, statistically, 4% of your users are likely to be colourblind?
It’s extremely important to make sure that your website is accessible to those who struggle to differentiate between colours, as how people see your website has a huge impact on how, or whether, they’ll use it.
Built by a team of expert Graphic Designers, Color Safe is a tool which helps brands generate beautiful colour palettes for their products and websites that also helps to improve their usability and legibility for colourblind users.
This tool gives you colour suggestions based on key design elements such as your website’s background colour, font family, and font size. These recommendations are based on WCAG guidelines for text and background colour ratios.
#4 Accessible Email
When it comes to designing for accessibility, email sends often get forgotten about.
However, when you consider the key part that email marketing plays in communicating with customers and generating new leads, it’s actually one of the most important things to consider.
Accessible Email is a free HTML editor and email evaluator which will help you improve the code and accessibility of your email newsletters before you send them out so that users who are visually impaired or colourblind can engage with them just as effectively.
#5 WAVE by WebAim
After adjusting the design of your website and emails, it’s important to use an accessibility testing tool to determine whether any further changes need to be made.
For this, we recommend WAVE. It’s a robust collection of accessibility checks in one place, which will scan your website and use a visual overlay to highlight everything about your website that could be improved. This may range from colour contrast and text sizes to font types and structural elements.
WAVE’s free checker will give you a full audit of every page on your site one by one, but there is also a paid enterprise version of the tool available for those who wish to scan multiple pages at once.
MobiReady is another fantastic accessibility testing tool, designed specifically to measure the accessibility of websites on mobile devices.
With MobiReady, you can visualize how your website appears on multiple different devices, get detailed accessibility recommendations and even benchmark your site against the Alexa 1000 (a definitive ranking of the world’s most user-friendly websites).
Getting started with website accessibility
When it comes to designing a website that includes everybody, you’re definitely not on your own. With a mix of free and paid tools out there to help you, you’ll be well on your way to creating a fully accessible website in no time.
The tools outlined above are an excellent starting point to ensure that you are being inclusive of all potential customers. We’d recommend beginning by adjusting various elements of your website’s design based on these tools’ recommendations, and then using an accessibility evaluation tool such as WAVE or MobiReady to check whether any further adjustments need to be made.
With this in mind, it’s time to start updating your website design, boosting your search rankings, and showing your customers just how much you care.
To find out more about how our online voice recording and messaging platform can help make your website more accessible for the visually impaired, get in touch with the team at telbee today!