The Internet is an increasingly important resource for many aspects of our daily lives, such as work, education, healthcare, and even recreation. The Internet is also how potential clients find lawyers. In fact, according a 2014 survey conducted by FindLaw.com, using the internet has become the most popular way to find and research a lawyer. Knowing this, have you thought about whether your website is accessible to those who may have visual, auditory or mobile impairment? If not, improving the accessibility of your firm’s website for individuals who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or those who must navigate by voice can be done in multiple ways. Here are just a few examples:
• Create alt tags for all images, videos and audio files. Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content they might not otherwise be able to view. Make sure your alt text is meaningful. It should describe the image in a concise phrase or sentence. If you have multiple similar images on page, for instance, be sure to describe them in a way that makes them distinguishable.
• Choose your colors carefully. Make sure the colors you select on your site contrast well to ensure that everyone can distinguish between various elements on the page. Contrast Checker is a free online tool you can use to check you color selection. Additionally, don’t use color as the only means of conveying information. The most common place to think about this? Hyperlinks. Simply making a hyperlink a different color may not distinguish the hyperlink from the other text. Consider underlining your hyperlinks, in addition to applying color.
• Create clear headers to structure your content and identify the site's language in the header code. Clear headers also help screen readers interpret your pages. Additionally, making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Screen readers can identify those codes and function accordingly.
• Create a consistent and organized layout. Menus, links and call to action buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly defined from one another and are easy to navigate.
• Make sure your site is keyboard friendly. To improve accessibility be sure your website works without the use of a mouse. The most common way of navigating with the use of a keyboard is by the Tab key. There for, your goal should be to ensure that all web content and navigation can be accessed using Tab.
• Create text transcripts for video and audio content. Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
• Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors. If a user with a disability is encountering input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should offer recommendations as to how visitors can better navigate to the content they need.
For additional information on how to make your website more accessible, look to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines focus on making websites perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.