The main objective of web accessibility is removing any limitation that will prevent interaction with, or access to your website, especially by people with disabilities.
These disabilities can be visual, auditory, cognitive, and related to motor and seizure disorders.
Although ensuring accessibility and 508 compliance require a very detailed review and ongoing monitoring of content and code in your site, by following these best practices you will avoid the most common issues with this topic:
- Ensure that the HTML code of your website is semantically correct. For instance, use only one H1 for the main heading of your site, and respect the hierarchy of the other headings within the content.
- Use meaningful descriptions in the alt attribute of any image of your website. Ensure you provide the right context. For those images that are just decoration, ensure that the alt text is set but empty, i.e. <img alt=”” src=”image.png”>. Do not use title attributes in images, that will cause confusions when the content is read by a page reader to people with sight disabilities.
- Use meaningful descriptions in the title attribute of non-self-explanatory links. For instance, if you have a bunch of “read more” links in your site, they won’t give enough information to people with sight disabilities using a page reader. However, if you specify a title attribute for each of those links, like <a title=”Read more about 508 compliance” href=”#508”>Read more</a>, the title attribute will be read instead of the actual link content.
- Use underlined links with enough contrast. When links are not underlined or have a very similar color to the content they’re very hard to discover. Consider color blind users when you choose your colors.
- Build large clickable areas, to help users who cannot control a mouse with precision. This is also applicable in responsive design, to be able to tap with your fingers large-enough areas easily.
- Ensure that users can navigate the interface of your website with the keyboard. Also, ensure that the tab order is correct.
- If site contains forms, ensure that every field contains a corresponding label so page readers can read it. There are several techniques to accomplish this goal.
- If site contains videos, use closed captions for people with auditory disabilities.
- Avoid flashing effects.
- Use illustrations and instructional diagrams to make content more clear and easier to understand.
To know more about these accessibility guidelines, visit the following links:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
- Section 508 § 1194.22