It’s important to take steps to make your website accessible as it’s built to save time, money, and hassle for the end user. This page gives web developers and designers resources for making all pages managed by CU accessible for all users, whether they use assistive technologies like a screen reader, speech recognition software, or rely on a keyboard for navigation.
Frequent Website Mistakes
Accessible websites are a relatively new challenge for web developers and designers, and there are common issues that many run into when building websites. While this list has common mistakes made by developers and designers, it is not a comprehensive list of everything that could cause a website to be inaccessible. To ensure your website is accessible, use the Developing Accessible Websites Checklist below for a step-by-step guide for specific website development.
- Layout: Accessible website code follows a clear pattern in order to provide an outline for the page. Don’t use headings simply to highlight text; there should be a defined structure in place for page elements that makes it easy for screen readers to scan.
- Links: Screen readers often pull a list of links from a given page, therefore links used on a webpage should be descriptive about what the link is for (e.g. Read the University’s Accessibility Policy instead of click here).
- Images and Video: Be sure to enter a description with alternative text when you add images to a website so users with screen readers know there is a photo and understand its purpose. Videos, on the other hand, should be captioned throughout and be posted using a video player that is compatible with assistive technologies.
- Navigation: It’s important to make websites accessible for people using only a keyboard. This is an easy thing to test using tab, enter, and arrow buttons. Additionally, links should change appearance when you hover over them so users relying on keyboards for navigation can easily find where they are on the page.
- Forms: Any form on your page should be properly labeled so that screen readers can detect that there is a need for users to input information.
Developing an Accessible Website Checklist
- Check that your website is accessible as you build it, following accepted practices for inserting images, videos, links, tables and navigation.
- Test the website yourself using only a keyboard for navigation. This will illustrate for you as the developer that users are able to navigate the page and menus firsthand.
- Check that your html is accessible using an HTML validator. These tools scan the code on a website provides a list of potential problems or errors for assistive technologies.
- Accessibility checkers are useful tools that check pages and cover things an HTML validator may miss, like image alt text. OIT recommends the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool, which not only lists the errors, but shows specific issues and gives warnings about possible inaccessibility in browser.
- Perhaps the most important test is checking how the webpage works for actual customers using assistive technologies or limited use of a computer. Getting specific feedback will help personalize the site and ensure you are meeting your actual customer’s needs.
Accessibility and Usability Lab
Part of CU Boulder’s accessibility plan is providing campus with on campus resources to aid in accessibility. The Accessibility and Usability Lab provides information about the accessibility of software and websites, as well as tests programs for departments and groups on campus.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of guidelines and techniques maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative that give web developers a standard for accessibility worldwide. The WCAG includes technical instruction, examples of code, and criteria for testing websites for accessibility. Visit the World Wide Web Consortium website for more information.