5 ways web designers can build accessible websites

For some, being able to tap into the vast amount of information on the Internet is a privilege – and in the eyes of others, it’s a right. Either way, web designers can help more people get the information they need online, just by building websites everyone can use.

In a blog post for Toronto-based New Design Group Inc., Alexandra Tanasa writes about how website designers can ensure they’re compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

As more and more of the world is coming online, the act recognizes people with disabilities should also be able to access the Internet with ease, so AODA recommends website designers follow the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

While AODA has been in force and mandatory for private companies since January 2012, it’s still worth revisiting what makes a website accessible and easy to visit for everyone.

Here are four main principles from WCAG:

1. Websites should be perceivable, meaning users can perceive the information being displayed.

2. Websites need to be operable, allowing users to operate the interface.

3. Websites need to be understandable, so users can understand the information that’s presented to them.

4. Websites have to be robust. As technology advances, the content still needs to be accessible.


Plus, here’s a list of five things web designers can do to ensure their sites are compliant with AODA:

  • 1. Text alternatives: For places that are non-text, there should be larger font, simpler language, symbols, or audio descriptions.
  • 2. Making the site distinguishable: The font should be no smaller than 14-pt font, and it should be easy to tell the text and the background apart. Designers should avoid fonts that are hard to read, and they should make their links very visible.
  • 3. Keyboard accessibility: Some users are not able to operate a mouse, so designers should ensure users can manoeuvre around the site with ease by using a keyboard.
  • 4. Time-based media: Instead of just providing video content, there should be audio-only versions. And for audio commentary, there should be a text back-up.
  • 5. Enough time to read pages: While banners that change to other images might look good, users with reading disabilities may have trouble getting the full message. Designers can either turn these banners off, or allow users to delay the time on the features.


For the full list, click the “Original Article Source” link. She also provides some timelines in another post here.

Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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