by Emma Major and Laura Neale
Many visually impaired people rely on screen readers to access digital content, resources and communities. Here are some tips to help you ensure your website, blog and/or social media are accessible for people with visual impairments:
Use alt text for all pages, sections and files on your website, including images and videos. Without these, a screen reader will not know what the unidentified item is and therefore, not be able to inform the user. This also applies to social media. Add alt text to photos and GIFS before posting on social media. If this is not possible, add a description of the photo or GIF to your main text.
In the same way that people who are hard of hearing might use captions to engage with media, people who are visually impaired can rely on video descriptions to tell them what is going on in a video. Although actors on TV will say some things, some key parts of the story might only be visual, meaning visually impaired people will miss part of the story. If you upload videos to your website or blog, ensure you also add a video description option.
Use tags correctly. When building a website, make sure to use the correct tags for headings, sub headings and main text as screen readers rely on these to inform the user what section of a page they are reading.
Use colours that are bold and well contrasted. Avoid using similar colours on or near each other. This is particularly important with text as words that are a similar colour to the background will be very difficult to read. You can find out which colours work well together here: Accessible Colors | WCAG 2.0 AA and AAA color contrast checker (accessible-colors.com)
Find and use clear, accessible fonts. Some fonts that are curly or complex can be very hard to read, as the letters can be hard to identify and differentiate between. Although this is important for people who use a magnifying glass to read text, it will also make it easier for anyone with dyslexia. You can find out which fonts are accessible here: accessible_fonts_guide.pdf (reciteme.com)
Use a percentage rather than a set size for text on your website so that the layout and content is still accessible when a user magnifies text on the page.
Keep the whole layout and the structure of your website fluid. By using percentages instead of set sizes, it is easier for someone to magnify the area they need without the rest of the page becoming messy and hard to access.
Avoid using captcha. Captcha relies on someone being able to see or hear something. This can be difficult and stressful for many people with a variety of impairments.
Use paragraphs to separate text when you are posting on social media or adding text to a blog/website to make each part clearer and easier to read.
Add a search box to your website or blog if possible. This makes searching for a particular page or article easier for everyone, but especially for people who are visually impaired and use a magnifying glass or screen reader.