Why It’s So Important
The internet removes barriers that many people face in the physical world. It is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability. However, when websites or technologies are poorly designed, they can instead create barriers that exclude people from using it.
High-quality websites are accessible, and don’t exclude people from using your products or services. It removes barriers to communication with all people, and also benefits users on small screens such as mobile phones, users who may be in public spaces who can’t listen to audio, or people with slow internet connections. Accessible design improves user experience, can enhance your brand and extend your reach.
We built your site from the ground up with accessibility in mind. So we’ve taken care of most of it already. However, there are some considerations you should make as you update and maintain the content on your site – accessible design must be intentional and considered with every update!
Accessibility Best Practices
Uploading New Images
- When you upload a new image to the media library, you will see a field called “Alternative Text” (called an alt tag). ALWAYS add a description of the photo into this field. You can say something like “Person cutting ribbon at the 2022 groundbreaking ceremony for XXX Organizations new building.” Title the image something different and more concise.
- If an image fails to load on a web page, a user can mouse over the area originally intended for the image and read this brief description of the image.
- Visually impaired users often browse the web with the aid of screen reading software. When you include the alt attribute, the screen reading software can read the image’s description out loud to the visually impaired user.
- Use of PDFs/posters or images with text should be limited. Screen readers can’t read text within an image. If you do need to use an image with text in it, please have a very informative alt tag and/or include the same content in a text module next to the image.
Content and Structure
- It is important to have a strong hierarchical structure on each page of a website so that users that are navigating a website with keyboard or screen reader only can make sense of where they are in a page.
- This includes Heading text. We have incorporated H1 text into the header of each page: “About” or “Contact”. There should only be one H1 per page – if you are updating your site and need to add subheader text, please use H2 or H3. The headings should be in sequence and heading levels should not be skipped.
- Content you add should be concise and readable. If you are adding long sections of text, consider breaking it into shorter paragraphs or adding bulleted lists. This is ideal for both accessibility and general readability.
- Links within text should be descriptive and show where they are taking you from context.
- Do not write: “To learn more, click here.”
- Instead something like: “There are a few great resources to learn more about water rights in Montana.”
- Or: “There is a lot more information about accessibility on the W3C website.”
- If the link takes the user to an external website, make sure to check the “Open link in a new tab” box.