Building Accessible Solutions

Accessibility is essential for organizations that want to create and provide high-quality tools that do not exclude people from using their products and services.

Web Accessibility

It’s important to ensure that your application is usable by all users, regardless of ability. Don’t assume users are using a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Accessibility might be a temporary impairment, like recovering from hand surgery. Accessibility is not always about what you see, for example, a physical impairment, etc. Lastly, depending on location, it may be against the law to have an application, app, or website that is inaccessible.

User Characteristics

From an accessibility standpoint, it’s important to understand how to interact best with users, for example, cognitive and physical abilities, literacy level, non-native language speakers, bandwidth limitations, socioeconomic challenges, etc. User characteristics should always be kept in mind when building solutions.

Design Characteristics

Keep users in mind when it comes to design characteristics, for example, font choice, size, color, and contrast. When using any multimedia, whether audio or visual, provide the alternate text for all users to have access. Remember to always use coding best practices.

Firefox has an accessibility checker built into it, located in the toolbar.

Often, users will change the font size and color to display emphasis on certain words and phrases. However, these changes do not come across on a screen reader. Instead, users should choose different styles. This will not only help screen readers, but also users who are satisficing (scanning to find an answer) pages. It’s easier to navigate with meaningful headers versus blocks of text. When typing on your intranet, use conventional capitalization to allow easier readability.

When providing links, do not use “learn more” and “click here” as these do not let users know what the links lead too. This does not provide a strong information scent of what they will find, does not provide enough context for screen readers, and causes confusion on whether the links all go to the same place.

Specific - avoid generic language. Sincere - link to proper site. Substantial - able to stand on their own. Succinct - just as long as they need to be.

Accessible Pictures and Media

It’s possible and recommended to put in alt text in your images in SharePoint online. Note that it is not the same thing as a caption. Make sure the alt text is descriptive of context, not just the content. With pictures and media, include both captions and descriptions of the content.

Inverted pyramid structure content match web reading patterns

When you write inverted, you have your overview and summary at the top. Identify key points in the overview and summary to allow users to know if they want to keep reading. Rank secondary information. Stay consistent with writing, use active vs passive voice. To help with this, the Hemingway app is useful. Front load all elements to help users who are scanning the web, they have access to the most important information in the front. If the article is long, consider adding a summary.


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