How can I make my site accessible for everybody?
Simple question, simple answer. There are four categories of problems, people might have using a website
can be less than average or (partially) non-existent (like the ability to see colors or to see with just one eye).
Some things, which can be a challenge in real life, do not influence the usage of a website a lot: like sitting in a wheel chair.
So first of all just try to understand what kind of needs have people with disabilities. For example completelz blind people. Can they use your site? How? It is quite easy to support blind people: they use screen readers, programs that read the texts of your pages out loud. You have to provide ALL the content as text (also what is on your pictures). Now disable your css and look at your pages: everything should be linearly ordered in just one dimension: from top to bottom. Make sure, that the content is provided in the correct order: does it still make sense? Or do you use phrases like: on the left you see… – which is nonsense now, because there is no left or right. When you use phrases like “as I said before” is this what you are referring to before or after this sentence? ;-)
Try this with other disabilities. What is a problem for people that cannot move very good: if they cannot put their arms way up in the air, it’s probably no problem to use a mouse and keyboard, but if they have a tremor, it’s very difficult for them to click on tiny buttons and icons.
With this approach you can find out a lot about your own site. If you like experiments: Just try to use your page with your feet instead of hands, wear glasses for watching 3d-movies (these with green and red „glass“)
And further just use your imagination.
One thing which is overseen very often: People, who never were able to hear, normally do not speak even the language of their own country. They use gestures for communication. So they cannot read your texts – at least only with big difficulties. So try to keep your sentences short, remain essentially, just write, like everybody should write anyway: there are a lot of descriptions/tutorials out there in the web, explaining how to write good and readable texts.
You will see – all of these improvements will help everybody to use your site: accessibility for all means usability for everybody.
OPne of my favorite examples from real life: an elevator, that was build to make a station accessible for people in a wheelchair is a great thing for pregnant women with hands full of shopping bags, young people exhausted after a hard training session or long night, for old people, who are still able to use ordinary stairs, but with great toil.
Accessibility is good for ever single user of your page. And for you! 1 billion people have disabilities (German). That is a quite big market!
Of course this is just the first step – later you should read the texts out there in the web or here at haunschild.de. There are quite a lot of details to learn about how screen readers work or what contrast ratio you should use for text and background. Not everything can be done by trying to be somebody else, but it is a good first step.
Of course nobody should stop walking after making a single step. There is still quite a lot to discover out there! Follow me on this interesting journey. You won’t regret! ;-)