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7 Impactful Ways To Make Your Website More Accessible

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May 20 2021, Published 4:55 a.m. ET

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When I was first learning to code, I used to get overwhelmed by all the things I thought I needed to memorize — from JavaScript syntax to CSS properties to web accessibility standards. Adhering to web accessibility standards was especially intimidating. Despite the fact that web accessibility comes with enormous ethical and legal implications, it wasn’t widely discussed across the development community. When it came to writing code that met accessibility standards, it was hard for me to even figure out where to start.

Over time, and through my own research, I realized that there are communities out there with the aim of making the web accessible for everyone. On top of that, I learned that you don’t have to memorize all the requirements of web accessibility to write code that meets the standards. It turns out that searching for answers, rather than memorizing, is a normal part of development. Whether you’re a veteran developer or just getting started in tech, you can start integrating web accessibility into your code.

My aim in this article is to give you a solid introduction to important concepts around web accessibility, so you can make it a part of your coding practice from the start — and, hopefully, that you will join the community of developers who aim to make the web accessible to everyone.

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1. What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility is the practice of ensuring everyone can perceive, operate, and understand web content. The heart of this practice is making the web accessible to people with temporary or permanent disabilities. There’s a lot that web designers and web developers have to consider when creating user interfaces and user experiences — everything from making text decipherable for low-vision readers to focusing content for users with motor impairments who primarily use the keyboard (two examples from Google’s accessibility developer docs.

“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” –Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and Inventor of the World Wide Web

2. Components Of Web Accessibility

Before we can make sense of web accessibility, we need to talk about web content. You may know that web content is the information on a web page or app such as text, images, sounds, and videos. What may be surprising is that it also includes the code markup that defines the structure and presentation of the user interface. Markup includes HTML (HyperText Markup Language). So the `h1` header tag as well as the text of the title are part of what makes up web content.

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Code gets interpreted by web browsers so that people can access web content on sites and apps. The content can then be interpreted by assistive technologies that improve usability of websites for people with disabilities. Assistive technologies include software or equipment like screen readers, voice recognition software that aids voice to text functionality, eye tracking devices, screen magnifiers, and more.