Thursday 18 May is Global Access Awareness Day. The purpose of this day is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with different disabilities. Being blind or having low vison doesn’t stop your need to buy products, enjoy services and be part of society like everyone else. Often sighted people take for granted the ability to access websites and documents freely and easily and the impact not being provided access to such things can have on your life.

Making a document or website accessible means that someone who is blind or has low vision can access the information. There are many ways you can help to make the world around us more accessible. If your website is accessible adaptive technology can help blind or low vison users read the content. If your brochures are available by email as accessible PDFs, the same technology can help them access the information. If your menu is available in braille, a blind dinner will be able to choose their dish of the day.

There are lots of simple tricks you can use to create an accessible website.  The most common ones are:

  • Images and animations: use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
  • Image maps: use the client-side map and text for hotspots.
  • Multi-media: provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
  • Hypertext links: use text that makes sense when read out of context.  For example, avoid ‘click here’.
  • Page organisation: use headings, lists, and consistent structure.  Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
  • Graphs and charts: summarise or use the longdesc attribute.
  • Scripts, applets and plug-ins: provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
  • Frames: use the noframes element and meaningful titles.
  • Tables: make line-by-line reading sensible.  Summarize.
  • Check your work: validate.  Use tools, checklists and guidelines at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines website.

If you want expert advice, the Blind Foundation team are here to help. Our free advice line provides quick tips and answers. We can also quote on a full service whether you want your current site evaluated or need to develop a new site. Give our team a call on 0800 932 847 or email access@blindfoundation.org.nz.