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How to design accessible websites

After having learned about all the different ways in which people access the web and all the circumstances that might make it difficult to access information in one format or another, you might think that providing accessibility to all is an enormous and impossible task - It isn't.

Accessibility starts with one easy technique: Keep it simple.

Using valid code and following some simple accessibility and usability guidelines will ensure that anyone on any device can get to the information they want.

General tips :

  • Follow the guidelines regarding HTML mark-up, style sheets and accessibility.
  • Validate against these guidelines and test your site with your user group in mind.
  • Present content in a clear, simple and jargon-free language.
  • Stick to known conventions.
  • Organise your online material in a clear and transparent manner. Be consistent in design and navigation.
  • Allow the user control over presentation by separating presentational styles from structure (via style sheets).
  • Make your content accessible for users of assistive technologies, allow for alternative input devices (such as keyboard instead of mouse) and for alternative output (such as screen readers).
  • Offer alternative formats or descriptions for any non-text element, such as images and multimedia (captions, audio transcripts, text descriptions of images, etc.)
  • Keep moving content to a minimum (e.g. pop-out menus, scrolling text, flashing content and animations) and make it stoppable.
  • Don't rely on colour alone to convey information.
  • Graphics, colours and (consistent) navigation icons can improve accessibility for people with learning difficulties.
  • Provide downloadable material in a simpler format like RTF or TXT, the lowest common denominator, if possible.

Learn more :

Detailed instructions on how to achieve accessibility can be found in the Techniques section.

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