Accessibility matters. Just like the internet’s websites are many and diverse, so too are its users. To make sure that everyone can access and enjoy your site, no matter what hardware or software they’re using to assist them, websites must be accessible to those with different levels of ability. The standards for accessibility are laid out in the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and focus on areas such as:
With an estimated 575,000 blind or vision impaired people1 and 4 million people with a disability2 currently living in Australia, websites must be made accessible so that the web is easy for everyone to use.
At Switch we do our best to make our websites as accessible as possible. This is particularly true of websites for organisations dedicated to inclusivity such as Play by the Rules, a collaboration between the Australian Sports Commission and other sports and government agencies. While working on Play by the Rules’ new website (live early 2017), Switch’s designers and developers discovered a number of tools to ensure that it meets the government’s accessibility standards. These are the top tools we used.
Color Safe provides AA & AAA compliant colour suggestions based on your background colour, font family, font-size, and font-weight. This is particularly useful when determining which colours to pair with brand colours so that text remains legible for everyone. While working on the Play by the Rules website, Switch designers used this tool to find suitable colours that had a high contrast ratio when paired with varying background colours.
This handy Chrome extension can look at any webpage, image, or PDF open in your browser and identify which text elements aren’t compliant in terms of colour contrast. You can choose between testing for AA and AAA compliance and which part of the screen you’d like to focus on: the full page, visible content, or a custom region.
NoCoffee is a Chrome extension that allows you to see your website as if you had visual impairments. It’s a handy tool for seeing your website from another point of view. By seeing your site from this new perspective, you will better understand the difficulties visually impaired visitors have, which helps you make better design decisions.
WebAIM’s web accessibility evaluation tool, Wave, looks at a live website to provide a detailed list of accessibility-related errors, alerts, and more. For example, discover whether your website has empty headings or links, is missing any key page elements that differently-abled people use to navigate websites, or uses Flash or plugins that may not be accessible to everyone. It’s also available as a Chrome extension.
NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) is a free screen reader by NV Access, an Australia-based not-for-profit. In addition to giving tens of thousands of vision-impaired and blind people across the world access to computers, it is an excellent tool for developers to experience their website as a visually impaired person would.
Your humble browser, even without any of the tools discussed above, excels at testing some key accessibility concerns.
At Switch, we’ve used this collection of accessibility tools to create enjoyable website experiences for all users. There are no excuses when we have such handy extensions and tools readily available to us. We invite you to review your websites using some of the techniques listed here. We’re certain your visitors will thank you.