Many disabled people, including people with visual impairments, and people who are blind, face significant challenges when using websites – when they are not designed with accessibility in mind. Website accessibility is crucial for ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities can access online content, in our increasingly digitised world.
It is not only important for creating an inclusive digital environment, but it is also a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010. Thankfully though, there are website accessibility guidelines we can use to ensure our websites are accessible to people who are blind or who have a visual impairment.
Visual impairments refer to a wide range of conditions that affect the eyes or the brain’s ability to process visual information. Some common visual impairments include low vision, color blindness, and total blindness. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that reading text, navigating web pages, and interpreting images are all going to be more difficult if you can see web page content very well, or not at all.
There are several things that website designers should keep in mind when designing an accessible website for people with visual impairments. These include:
Designers should use accessibility tools such as WAVE to get a quick sense of accessibility problems that might exist. However, it is also important conduct user testing with disabled people. Disabled people will provide valuable insight into how accessible the website is ‘in the real world’. Website accessibility is an ongoing process, and designers should regularly review and update accessibility features. Providing accessible alternatives for inaccessible content, such as video transcripts for video audio can help maintain website accessibility.
Designing an accessible website is not only important for creating an inclusive digital environment but as I mentioned earlier, it is also a legal requirement. By considering the needs of people with visual impairments and following WCAG 2.1 website accessibility guidelines, designers can ensure that their websites are accessible to everyone. As website designers, we have a responsibility to our site visitors. We should take action towards making the internet a more inclusive place for disabled people, particularly for people with visual impairments and people who are blind.