Virtual BizNest has added yet another feather to our cap, namely improving several of our clients’ website accessibility by adding enhanced UX features. Thanks to our website developer VAs’ efforts, their sites will now be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This new addition to our Virtual Assistant services will help businesses improve their customer reach, enabling those with various impairments to utilize their websites better.
Website Accessibility is Important
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, to avoid discriminating against those with various impairments, websites should have features that allow them to be user-friendly to as many people as possible. After all, the challenges facing people with disabilities include more than just the lack of wheelchair ramps – even using the Internet has its share of obstacles. But considerate user experience (UX) design can circumvent this. With these considerations, businesses can ensure website accessibility for people with disabilities. Aside from allowing businesses to reach more customers it is also the right thing to do.
Leave No One Behind
The Internet has made all aspects of life so much more convenient. Nowadays online businesses can connect to customers and fulfill their needs in ways that would have been unimaginable before. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, these online services have become more invaluable. From ordering food to using tele-medicine to working from home, the Internet has gone from a convenient tool to a literal lifesaver. And this is why accessibility features are crucial for a large number of people. Otherwise, they may be unable to access essential services or information while they shelter in place.
Online Challenges Faced by People with Disabilities
Assistive technologies can help people with disabilities use computers. These range from computer programs or devices such as screen readers, text enlargement software, and voice user interfaces. Basic accessibility features include color scheme adjustment, contrast settings and font sizes. For those with limited manual dexterity, mouse cursors can be moved with keystrokes instead.
Poor or inconsiderate website design unnecessarily burdens people with disabilities. Website designers must be aware that not everyone sees and accesses web pages in the same way they do, as mistaken assumptions can frustrate the aforementioned assistive technologies and the people who use them. UX design must take these into account.
Website Accessibility Solutions
Virtual Assistant services that enhance website accessibility are focused on addressing the common problems, ensuring that client pages have their bases covered. These problems and their solutions include:
Images with Alt-Texts
Visually impaired people and those with difficulties reading computer screens use various assistive technologies to interface with webpages. Screen readers that speak out the text and refreshable Braille displays are among these. The latter is an electronic device that translates text into Braille characters. It uses rounded pins or shifting tactile surfaces that serve as the display the user reads by touch. Nonetheless, they require text to read or translate and cannot interpret raw images into speech or Braille.
This is why images have to come with alt-texts that describe the picture in question. These should be meaningful information that accurately conveys what is in the image. Depending on the context, these can be relatively simple or much more detailed.
Accessible Formats for Documents
Business pages that post documents or forms in PDF formats or other image-based formats must be mindful that these image-based formats are not accessible to blind people. The solution is to provide documents in text-base formats such as HTML or RTF that are compatible with assistive technologies.
Color and Font Adjustment
Web designers must balance aesthetic preferences that give websites a certain look and style with features that allow people with disabilities to adjust how the pages appear. People with low vision may not see the entire screen. Or they may perceive only small portions of a computer display at a time. Some may have difficulty with text or images that are too small. There are those who cannot perceive certain colors. For those who need specific color or font settings to access sites on the Internet, pages must enable them to toggle the settings to suit their needs. Websites can also be designed to be viewed in the color and font sizes set in the users’ web browsers or operating systems. So that the user won’t have to adjust each and every page they open.
Accessible Features for Videos and Other Media
Similarly, for videos and other media, those with hearing impairments may not catch what is on the audio tracks. Conversely, visually impaired people might hear the content just fine but have difficulty seeing what’s there.
As such, media must incorporate accessibility features like audio descriptions so the visually impaired users can get what is happening on screen. Likewise, text captions synchronized with the videos can help those with hearing difficulties follow what is in the videos.
Other Considerations for Website Accessibility
- Blinking, flashing and other distracting features should be minimized. Or users should be able to pause them.
- Online forms should have descriptive HTML tags and other considerations so people with disabilities will be able to conveniently complete and submit them.
- Visual notifications if sounds are playing can help the hearing impaired.
- Likewise, audio notifications will help those with visual difficulties.
Make Your Websites More Accessible with Virtual Assistant Services
VBN’s Virtual Assistants have helped several clients enhance their websites, integrating the above features into their user experience design and making them ADA-compliant. While no site is perfect in this regard, and no flawless solutions exist as of yet, we do what we must and what we can. By striving to improve accessibility, these features and assistive technologies become better over time. And more people will benefit from this.
We are proud to offer this service to our clients because at the end of the day, enabling more people to visit your business’ website, view its information, utilize its features and conduct transactions is both best for business as well as the ethical and moral thing to do.