Most if not all of our clients are concerned about making sure their sites are usable by as many people as possible. If you receive federal grant dollars, you are often required to make your site accessible. We work to make sure all sites we build are compliant with the US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for website accessibility (Section 508).
Simple steps you can take to make your site accessible now are:
- Always provide a description of images in the "ALT" field. This is not a caption of the image, but rather should say what the image contains ("Two people shaking hands". "A nurse and patient in a consultation room", "A horse standing under an oak tree in an open meadow"). If the ALT field is not availble in a fixed image field, we can help make sure it is. All websites Triangle Park Creative has launched since 2014 have had the ALT field enabled for defined image fields, and we now make the ALT text field mandatory. It's easy for people who don't have a visual impairment to forget about this in the rush to post an item. By making this required, we increase the chances that images will be "readable" by those who can't see them. (An added bonus is that having accurate ALT text descriptions helps with search engine optimization). For ParkPass clients, we have been going through their sites and retroactively enabling the required ALT field.
- Avoid dropdown menus with many levels of depth. It is often difficult to decide what is important to have on your website. Sometimes website owners end up just posting everything they can. Drop down menus can be tricky for people with limited mousing skills. We try to discourage having drop-down menus with more than 3 levels. We are more than happy to work with you to help organize data on a site that has become unweidly with pages. Send us a message to ask for more help with this.
- Make sure that your attached files (PDFs in particular) have readable text. If you have the option of pasting the text of a PDF directly in the body of a page, choose that over using an attachment. But if attaching a file is a requirement, it is best to generate the PDF directly from a PDF generating tools. You can generate text-based PDFs from any application on the Mac OS and most flavors of Linux, and, finally, Microsoft Windows 10. Older versions of Microsoft Windows have no built-in options for this, but there are free and low-cost options available. If you have a document that was scanned (and is thus, just an image of the original) you can use Adobe Acrobat to identify the text and create a searchable, readable version. This is not a perfect solution, but is an option when you don't have the original source document to create a text-based PDF. Other tools are available to help with this that don't cost as much as Acrobat, but are more limited in functionality. Contact us if you have questions about this.
When we design a website for clients, we keep 508 compliance in mind. Most all of our sites built are accessible, but example of a site that was required to be Section 508 compliant was midwestkidneynetwork.org.
If you want to check if your site is 508 compliant you can use the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool to see exactly where your site may need improvements.