Accessibility in Web Development: Getting started

Accessibility is becoming a more and more critical aspect of web development. Ensuring that all users, including those with disabilities, can access and use your website.

In this post, I’ll provide a few tips and best practices to get you started with creating accessible websites, including using semantic HTML, providing alt text for images, and testing with assistive technologies.

Using Semantic HTML

Semantic HTML refers to the use of HTML tags that convey meaning and structure to content. By using semantic HTML, you make it easier for assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to interpret the content on your website. For example, use the <h1> tag for the initial heading, followed by <h2> and <h3>, the <p> tag for paragraphs. Avoid using non-semantic tags, such as <div> or <span>, to convey meaning.

Provide Alternative Text for Images

Alternative text, or alt text, is text that describes an image. This is important for users who are blind or visually impaired and rely on screen readers to access content on the web. Use descriptive alt text that conveys the purpose or content of the image. Avoid using generic phrases such as “image” or “picture.” If an image is purely decorative and doesn’t add any meaning to the content, use empty alt text (alt=””).

Color with Care

Color is an important visual element in web design, but it can also be a barrier to accessibility. Users with color blindness or low vision may have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors. Use high contrast colors that are easy to read, and avoid using color alone to convey meaning.

For example, if you use red to indicate an error message, also include text that explains the error.

Test with Assistive Technologies

The best way to ensure that your website is accessible is to test it with assistive technologies, such as screen readers or magnification software. There are several free and paid tools available that simulate the experience of using a website with a disability.

Use these tools to identify accessibility issues and make necessary changes to your website.

Wrapping up

Using semantic HTML, providing alt text for images, using color with care and testing with assistive technologies takes you a long way. This way you can create a website that is accessible to all users. By making your website accessible, you not only improve the user experience for all users, but you also ensure compliance with accessibility regulations and avoid potential legal issues. Legal issues which public institutes and goverments in Europe will face, if not making their websites accessible for all.