As of January 2014, Ontario companies and organizations with more than 49 employees are required to make their website accessible to meet Ontario's multi-phase accessibility laws. Even if your company is smaller than 49, an accessible website can be good for business as one in seven Ontarians has a disability. So how do you know if your site is accessible?
Determining if your site is accessible can be challenging and implementing changes to make it accessible may be even more difficult. You may need the help of someone with knowledge in web accessibility and technology.
From a high level, here are some things to look at when doing an accessibility audit of your website:
Test Your Site with a Screen Reader
Many people with visual impairments use a screen reader and keyboard to navigate the Internet. As you might imagine, the screen reader audibly reads the content found on the screen aloud. The way in which your site is programmed and content is created can help screen reading software better navigate and read it.
If you use Google's Chrome web browser, you can install a free plugin called ChromeVox to experience what it's like to use your site with screen reading software.
Try installing ChromeVox and visit your website. You'll probably be surprised at how difficult it is to navigate. Now try the same exercise with your eyes closed.
Try Browsing with a Keyboard
Have you ever tried navigating a website without a mouse or touch screen? Non-sighted and people with other disabilities have to do this all the time.
Without keyboard accessibility some content displayed on the screen may be impossible to access. A few key items to look at include:
- Visual cues need to be in place to show what has focus or is being interacted with. An example of this is the visual cue we get when mousing over a link. A keyboard user tabbing through the page will find it helpful to know where they are on the page.