Accessibility of a website is a topic which just cannot be ignored. Creating an accessible website so that it can be equally accessed by people with disabilities is an important aspect to consider.
What is 508 Compliance?
Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. 508 Compliance, therefore, involves developing a website that can be used by people with limited vision or blindness, deafness, seizure disorders, and other disabilities.
In other words, 508 compliance website means that federal government websites need to be accessible and safe for people having disabilities. Nearly 20% of Americans have some sort of disability and maintaining the website to cater the needs to this group can help in getting a vast group of audience on the website. Hence working for the government or private, maintaining a website which compliances with section 508 is a good idea.
Section 508 for General Website Design:
Design for Avoidance of Optically Induced Seizures:
Make sure that no element on the page flashes at the rate of 2 to 55 per second. Screen flickers can cause seizures. Avoid any design which causes the screen to flicker between than 2 to 55 Hz.
Add Closed Captioning & Subtitles:
Closed captioning is just like subtitles where the text is included for any audio or video on the website so that the visually imparted people can also understand the content. This type of subtitles is widely being used nowadays. In fact, YouTube creates auto-generated subtitles for its contents.
Screen Reader Accessibility:
Any website should be built keeping in mind that it should be accessible via screen readers to read out the text aloud for visually impaired people or people with learning disabilities.
Accessibility with Keyboard
Your website should also cater to the needs to people with motor disability by making the controls on your website accessible via your keyboard buttons such as “Tab” to move between links to select the various page elements.
Skip Navigation Links
Provide a method for the users to be able to skip the animated mega navigation so that they can directly move to the main part of the website.
Add Alternative Text for Images and Videos
The images attached in each post should have a relevant description added as Alt text for the visually impaired people so that they can hear the description narrated by the screen reader. The same procedure should be followed for adding Alt text for embedded videos.
Allocate Contrast Colors:
Having the right contrast color for your text so that the page is easily legible is a very important aspect when it comes to web designing and can make your website easily accessible to people who are visually impaired.
Your design should be responsive, and the webpage should zoom on all devices so that people with visual impairment can zoom and access the page.
If you are adding a timeout element on the page, the timer should be set in such a way that it gives enough time for people to enter personal information without the page getting timed out in middle.
Your organization may not need to comply with Section 508, regardless, the best practice is to build a website which complies with Section 508 and is easily accessible for all the Americans, including the ones with disabilities.