Having a website that is accessible can help you attract more customers. Not only will your content be available to the large number of people who need it, but search engines may benefit from your commitment to accessibility as well. As more and more people are using mobile devices to browse the Internet, it’s important for those without disabilities to consider those who do. Here are some quick tips on how to implement an accessibility overlay into your website:

1. Don’t use images for text

Designers and programmers may sometimes opt to use an image instead of actual text, but this is a poor practice. Image dependence cannot always be guaranteed across devices since some don’t support it. It also poses the risk that accessibility software won’t be able to interpret the image’s meaning and will simply skip to the next piece of content if it cannot.

2. Avoid using CSS to convey important information

If you must use design elements such as icons and graphics to denote features and functions, be sure that your website also contains actual text labels to accompany them. This will give screen reader users a much easier time trying to understand what features and functions they perform than if you only rely on CSS images and descriptive labeling text.

3. Use semantic HTML for buttons instead of images

Make use of the <button> element in HTML5 whenever possible when designing buttons or iconography for your site’s navigation bar or other areas where clickable controls are called for. This allows screen readers such as JAWS, Back, NVDA, or VoiceOver to better understand what they do and allows users to activate them using the Enter or Space keys.

4. Avoid using Flash for menus

Flash is not accessible on most mobile devices, which means that your content will be inaccessible to many of your potential customers. It’s also very difficult for screen readers to make sense of it regarding menu systems, so you may confuse your user more than help them if they don’t already know where everything can be found just by memory. This also prevents search engines from indexing the individual items in the menu system as well.

5. Label all controls with text instead of just images

For some reason, buttons are one of the features on websites that tend to get neglected when it comes to accessibility. You may think that it’s enough to use an image of a button in its place with text next to it, but this is not the case. Not only are images not always accessible when using screen readers, but search engines can’t always index them either for people who are trying to find them online. Using actual text labels allows users of all abilities to understand what each control does and avoids any misinterpretations about their functions or importance.

6. Try making your site fully keyboard-accessible

Many websites have many features which cannot currently be accessed by means other than a mouse or touchpad pointer device. Suppose you want everyone, including those who need assistive technologies such as screen readers, increased website access. In that case, you’ll have to make sure your website can be fully accessed utilizing a keyboard. This includes all navigational elements, forms, and search bars.

Lauren Sanchez - Author

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