This is a guest post by Jackie Edwards.
All websites need to cater to all of their users, including those with disabilities, but sadly many websites do not. For instance, in India all government websites are required to follow guidelines that ensure that the websites are accessible to everyone, but a survey of over 1,000 websites found that less than 1% of the websites actually meet the requirements.
This shows that there is an issue with how accessible websites are in India – and the issue is preventing millions of disabled people in India from having a simple online experience. Thankfully it is easier than you may think to improve website accessibility.
Here are four tips to make your website more accessible.
Use periods when you are abbreviating
There are over 10 million people in India with a visual impairment disability, and many of them use screen readers to read out text on websites. However, this can cause problems if you don’t put periods in the right place as the screen reader won’t read the text properly; for instance, if you write FBI instead of F.B.I the text will be read out as “fbi”.
Use subtitles and sign language interpreters
If your website includes videos, you should add sign language interpreters or subtitles to improve website accessibility. After all, there is an estimated deaf population of between 1.8 million and 7 million people in India, so if you don’t include subtitles you could exclude a significant chunk of your audience.
You should also add labels to your images to make it easier for the visually impaired to use your website. Many people who are visually impaired use assistive technology to help them decipher websites, but this can be difficult if you don’t include labels on your images as the technology can’t ‘read’ the image. If you provide a label describing the image the technology will be able to read that to the user, making it possible for them to enjoy the multimedia aspects of your website as well as the text.
Be aware of your audience
You also need to be aware of your audience if you want to make a more accessible website. There are a range of disabilities, from hearing impairments to cognitive impairments, and it is important to address each issue so that you can provide a useful service.
There is certainly pressure in India for ‘digital India’ to grow and progress, but there are still thousands of Indian websites that are not accessible for people with disabilities. Don’t get left behind – join the movement to make your website more accessible and progressive.