Take a moment and imagine all of the different people that visit your ministry’s website each day. Now think about the number of people who visit your website every week. What about every month? That figure can grow quite large, very quickly.
Now, take away your ability to see your computer screen or your ability to use a mouse or your ability to easily distinguish colors. Could you still explore your website with the same quality as you had before? For millions of people this is not something that they need to imagine. It is their reality.
Across our world we have standardized wheelchair accessible buildings and vehicles, curb ramps, braille signs, and thousands of other accessible friendly aspects of life to help everyone be successful.
Just like our cities, streets, and homes we must make sure our websites are easy to use for everyone. There is good news! You can start making your website more accessible by carving out a few additional minutes every day. Let us help get you moving in the right direction!
Start with Small Steps
Making your website more accessible can be as small or big of a project as you want. The most important thing to keep in mind is that some of the smallest changes can have the greatest impact for those that need it. The list below is in no way comprehensive; however, it is a great start to make your website as accessible as possible.
Mind Your Colors
We have all landed on that one webpage that uses an obnoxious background color that makes everything on the page impossible to read. Now, imagine that same webpage for someone who cannot see certain colors, or cannot see color at all! Reading your ministry’s website could be close to impossible.
To test your ministry website’s color friendliness, visit this website to experience color-blindness when viewing a webpage. You can enter your ministry’s website and view what it would look like for people with certain color blindness.
Helping make your website’s content easy to see (and read) is not terribly hard. Avoid using background colors and font colors that are similar in hue. Make sure that hyperlinks stand out on the page. Hyperlinks should be easy to spot anywhere on your website. You can read more about creating an effective hyperlink to make sure your ministry’s website is accessible for everyone.
In general, it is best to leave the main body font of your website a deep black color. This will ensure that all people can easily read the content on your website. Avoiding large gradients or busy background patterns will help to reduce strain for those that have color blindness.
Use Headers (Correctly!)
Many websites do not use headers to help break up their website’s content. Instead their website is a wall of text that makes reading content incredibly difficult.
Headers should be used for the title of pages, sections on pages, and sub-sections within your page content. This helps to organize the information on every page of your website to make it easy to read. For those that use screen-readers – a device that reads a website to its user – this will help inform them when content might change subjects or is moving to a new topic.
Next time that you add content to your website, make sure to use the heading 2 and heading 4 text sizes appropriately. Typically, heading 2 font sizes are used for page titles and major sections within your content. Heading 4 font sizes are used more commonly for sub-sections.
This small change can make your website infinitely more accessible for those that use software to navigate your website. Keep up the awesome work! Let’s keep moving forward!
Fill In ‘Alt Text’ Fields
A small change when using media on your website can make the world’s difference for people that use screen readers.
When uploading media such as images or videos to your website you may notice a field titled ‘Alt Text’ or ‘Alt Label.’ This field is called the Alternative Text field. Within this field, add a short description of the image or video that you are uploading. This description does not need to be long. It should be brief, yet descriptive.
This field will be used when a person using a screen reader comes across the image or video on your website’s page. Instead of having their screen read tell them “water.jpg” (this is an example image name) it will display your description from the field. As you could imagine hearing “Image of water breaking on rocks on a beach” is incredibly more useful than “water.jpg.”
After that, if you have the time, going through every image on your website and adding a description to the ‘Alt Text’ is a great idea. This step takes just a few seconds when adding new images or videos to your site and you and your ministry can adopt this simple change to help make your website more inclusive.
Include Alternatives for Media
Similar to including alternative descriptions for media, making sure a user has alternatives to the displayed image, slideshow, or video is important as well.
This could include closed captioning on the video or descriptions displayed under every image. This works to further enhance the experience of those that are using devices such as screen readers to help them picture the information and media being displayed.
Make Your Links Descriptive
Lastly, making sure that your hyperlinks are descriptive and include an action word is imperative. Titling a link to another website or resource as “Click Here” provides very little information to any visitor no matter the accessibility features that they may or may not be using.
Hyperlinks should always include an action word for the visitor and should describe what information, page, or video is being linked to. Identical to media, hyperlinks also have an ‘Alt Text’ field to describe what the hyperlink is intended for. Your description should be brief here as well. Typically describing what the link goes to and what it is for is more than enough. For example, a link to a news website article could have an ‘Alt Text’ label of “A link to a local news station covering the recent break-in.”
Small Changes Make Lasting Impacts
These changes can seem overwhelming. It is imperative to remind yourself that this very work can change lives for the better. No person should be prevented from using the internet for any reason!
Below are additional resources where you can learn more about taking steps to further your website’s accessibility.
Here at Worship Times we want to help your ministry create the website of your dreams that is accessible and easy to use for all!
If you have any questions about your existing website, want a free website review, or want to get started building a new website, we are here for you! We are never more than a click away, so please, drop us a line today!