For the past few years, web development has been shifting from just creating a functional site that is pleasing to look at but still usable by everyone to a more inclusive process where we think about all our users and making our websites available to as many people as possible. A major player in the process has been the inclusion of accessibility features using tools like accessiBe WordPress, which will ensure that everyone can use our websites with ease and comfort.
If you’re running a WordPress site, here are just a few things you should know about making your site more accessible:
#1. Add Alternative text For Images
Alternative Text or Alt Text describes an image that screen readers read for those with visual disabilities. It is usually seen as a tooltip by those using a mouse.
When you upload an image, WordPress automatically creates some alternative text for you based on the file name, but it won’t be of much use to someone who can’t see that image. You need to go into the post or page where that image is being used and add a meaningful description.
If you’re using WordPress’ built-in media uploader, then just click on the icon that looks like a magic wand next to Upload/Insert – this will bring up options for adding metadata to your media uploads. Here is where you should enter the title, caption, and alternative text.
#2. Add A Text-only Version Of Your Site For Screen Readers
As well as including alternative text on images, it is important to have a text only version of any page or post that uses images so that people who can’t view visual content are still able to understand your site content.
These days most sites include navigation links at the top of each page or blog post so visitors with visual impairments can find their way around your site, but many would have to use a screen reader to be able to understand what each link says.
That’s why it is important that you include an easy-to-read text list of links, which will make the navigation much more accessible for everyone. There are plugins that will automatically do this for you, but it is also very easy to do yourself.
#3. Use Color-Coded Headings To Make Your Site Structure Clear
A user should be able to understand the structure of your site just by looking at the headings on each page or post. That’s why you need to make sure that each section of your website has a heading of a different style.
For example, you should have an H1 for your site title and subtitle, H2 for your main header, and so on. That’s what search engines look at, too – they will show the site structure in their results, so it is harder to get traffic if you can’t be understood from headings.
#4. Add Alternative Date And Time Formatting For Visually Impaired Readers
When you write a post or page, WordPress automatically displays the date and time of when it was written at the top – but is that date information helpful if your site is read by visually impaired users?
Instead of using the standard date formatting that shows up by default, you can create your own data and time formatting, so it is meaningful to everyone.
Go to Settings > Writing in WordPress’ menu, and there you will be able to add your own date or time format. You can use PHP functions like the ones here to ensure that whatever format you choose is understood by all visitors.