Accessible web content for all

by Julius Serrano

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Web accessibility is about making sure that your web content can be understood, used, and enjoyed by people with disabilities. But there are specific situations where people who don't have disabilities can also benefit from accessible web content. My goal in this post is to cite some example situations and explain each one.

Video Captions

People who are deaf or hard of hearing will understand your videos more easily if you provide captions. This is because captions enable people with hearing disabilities to read the text equivalents of the spoken parts and sounds in the video, even though they may not be able to hear the audio.

Captions can also be useful for people without a hearing impairment. In a noisy environment, viewers can still get the video's full information if it has captions. For example, if they're watching a video tutorial about a piece of equipment in an area where construction is taking place, having captions will certainly help them understand the information in the video, even though they can't hear the audio. Similarly, when they're watching your video in a noisy pub, having captions will let them understand it fully amidst all the people talking and laughing.

Sufficient colour contrast

People who have low vision find it easier to read your text content if the font colour and background colour have sufficient contrast. This generally means making sure you're using a dark font colour against a light background, or vice-versa.

People with good eyesight can also benefit from sufficient colour contrast. When they're viewing web content on a phone or tablet outdoors on a particularly sunny day, it's more comfortable to read content that has sufficient colour contrast. It's also handy when consulting an online map with proper contrast while hiking or at a stop-over on a road trip.

Visible keyboard focus

When you tab through interactive elements (links, buttons, form controls), you would normally see a border around the currently focused element. This visible focus indicator is very important to people who have low vision, people who are colour-blind, and people with learning disabilities. We recommend keeping the visible focus indicator in your web content.

Having a visible focus indicator can also help you when you're browsing a page that has lots of content e.g. a page that has 50 or more links, or a long web form. Visible keyboard focus helps you quickly remember your location on the page especially when you're switching between other applications and the page you're browsing. You can also use the visible focus indicator to quickly point out a specific element while discussing web content with your colleagues.

Other useful accessible contents

Text descriptions for images help blind people understand the content and purpose of images. Blind people who normally use screen reading software can use this technology to read out the image descriptions provided in the web pages. Sighted people who are on a slow Internet connection and might have images disabled can also use text descriptions to understand the purpose of the images.

Keyboard accessible content is very important to people with motor disabilities who can't use the mouse. At the same time, people who do not have disabilities and prefer to use the keyboard will benefit from this accessible content.

These are just a few examples of how web accessibility can benefit people who do not have disabilities. Once you take time to understand the needs of people with disabilities, you will see other ways in which accessible content can be useful to you.

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