Common Accessibility Challenges

13 Apr 2018

Web Accessibility applies to a variety of components, not exclusively to Web Content. Because we specialize in Web Design and Development, we cover common accessibility challenges related to the Web Content component and outlined in W3C’s Recommendations for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

Websites Built from Templates

Websites built off of existing templates are a great way to hit the ground running and get your content out the door and marketed to your audience.

However, there can be caveats to this approach if Web Accessibility is critical to your organization. Some common challenges with utilizing templates:

  • If your template isn’t set up to automatically generate WAI-ARIA roles in template sections, you’re not making page flow semantic to screen readers or those who have CSS disabled.
  • If you’re using a WordPress template, it might employ plugins that display important content (such as homepage banners with animations) or implement a certain Call to Action (such as filling out a Contact Form), but aren’t designed for Accessibility. WordPress plugins are not required to follow any Web Accessibility standards. So content will not be perceived and controls and captchas on forms will not be accessible.
  • While many templates offer the ability to skin the website with a preferred color scheme, typefaces and font sizes, and other graphical elements and icons, some provide a limited amount of areas that can be changed from the default settings. Contrast and readability is essential to Web Accessibility. Template designers might not be taking those two components of Web Design into consideration.

Issues Specific to Blogs and User Generated Content

  • User generated content is challenging because sometimes users don’t correctly enter metadata, such as Alt Text when they’re uploading images.
  • Users might build out their content in a way that is more focused on design and less on layout hierarchy. For example, using header tags (H1, H2, H3) to format text, either making it larger or smaller, without considering the implications that has on the structure. A site should flow like a text book, with the H1 designating the page title, H2s designating section titles, H3s for sub-sections, and so on.

Issues Specific to Older Websites

  • Missing document-type HTML declarations.
  • Incorrect labeling of content, including missing WAI-ARIA elements that help notify screen readers of what is being presented on the page.
  • Use of image maps as the primary mechanism for conveying content. These will likely lack text descriptions for content and navigation.

Issues Specific to Custom Websites

Custom websites are a great way to get a unique website that embraces every aspect of your brand.

  • When developing your brand the designer may choose to change code that’s intended to help visually impaired website visitors for the sake of the design, for example removing a “focus state” (when you “click” into a cell in a form and the cell is highlighted) because it doesn’t easily match the brand.
  • Changing the design and functionality of hyperlinks to display in a non-standard way, making it difficult for those with contrast-based visual impairment.

Ability to Support Software & Hardware Based Assistive Technology

Can the following assistive technology access your website in its entirety? Are there areas that are inaccessible?

  • Text-to-Speech Screen Readers
  • Refreshable Braille Display