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Make sure your website works without visuals

No matter the reason why a site visitor may not be able to see your site, it's important to accommodate those with visual impairments.

There are many reasons a site visitor may not be able to see your site, including blindness, visual disabilities, or circumstantial impairments. No matter the reason, here are a few ways to intentionally welcome these visitors to your website.

Accommodating visual impairments

Following accessibility best practices will help your site reach more people.

Alt text on images

Most pictures on your site need alt text. Focus on ensuring that the message of the photo (why you chose it in the first place) comes through here.

“Images and graphics make content more pleasant and easier to understand for many people, and in particular for those with cognitive and learning disabilities. They serve as cues that are used by people with visual impairments, including people with low vision, to orient themselves in the content. However, images are used extensively on websites and can create major barriers when they are not accessible.”

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Audio description on videos

If your video can only be heard, what information is missing? Consider learning about video description (audibly describing what is happening). Additionally, consider descriptive transcripts (including more than just direct speech transcription) if your videos don’t include clear narration or verbal cues.

“Video description helps people who are blind or visually impaired to gain more complete access to the content of TV programs and movies and thereby more fully participate in society.”

American Foundation for the Blind

Semantic website markup

Site visitors may use a variety of tools to “read” your website, including complex screen readers, apps on their phone, or browser extensions. (Watch an example of a screen reader in action.) One of the best things you can do to ensure all the tools know what to do with your site is to have a properly coded site framework. And be sure to follow semantic best practices when adding content.

What could you do?

What could you do on your site going forward to ensure you aren’t excluding those who cannot view your website in full, for whatever reason?

Top photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash.

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