Accessibility has increasingly become a central priority for every top-notch nonprofit website.
Designing an accessible website is often viewed as an intimidating, complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Even taking incremental steps to incorporate accessibility into your website strategy is a strong first step in the right direction.
Luckily, since you’ve built your nonprofit’s website using WordPress, you’re already off to a great start when it comes to accessibility. This robust, powerful platform offers features and opportunities that ensure all users are welcome on your site.
In this quick guide, we’ll review four effective ways to create an accessible website that engages all of your nonprofit’s supporters from every background and walk of life. Let’s get started.
1. Familiarize yourself with relevant accessibility regulations.
When considering how to enhance your website’s accessibility, start by reviewing relevant guidelines and regulations. One of the most important regulations to be aware of is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The WCAG were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium to offer a uniform standard of web accessibility for all organizations. Even if you’re already familiar with these guidelines, it’s helpful to review them from time to time to ensure that your website adheres to the four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Alongside these formal guidelines, remember to keep the compassion and human connection aspects of accessibility in mind. At its core, accessibility is about taking into account the broad range of human needs and experiences while constructing your site’s design and structure.
This means that accessibility concerns also include instances of temporary accessibility issues. Take a broad view of accessibility to ensure your site is usable for everyone, from someone who’s color blind to the supporter trying to navigate through your online donation form with a broken hand.
2. Conduct an accessibility assessment.
There are plenty of online tools and resources available for assessing your website’s current accessibility. Kanopi offers a list of helpful accessibility tools including Lighthouse, Axe, and Siteimprove.
These tools test the accessibility of your website’s pages, along with usability elements such as SEO and page load speed. They then offer suggestions for how to fix any flagged issues that you can implement on your own or with the help of a developer, depending on the complexity of the problem.
However, keep in mind that these tools and checkers might not catch everything. Conducting manual tests is a critical step in the accessibility process.
A few strategies to use when conducting manual testing include:
- Navigating your website with your keyboard, using the tab key.
- Zooming in on your browser to 200% and reviewing your website’s usability in that format. Many users with visual impairments may zoom in on the screen to help them navigate your site, and even those without vision issues may zoom in if there are any small text blocks or images.
- Testing your website with assistive technology such as a screen reader.
These manual testing practices ensure that you keep the human, compassionate side of accessibility front and center throughout the optimization process.
3. Implement accessibility recommendations.
Once you’ve completed an accessibility audit, it’s worth sitting down with a web developer to assess the easy and hard fixes.
You may be able to adjust certain aspects of your site on your own, especially those that are content-based. But more in-depth, backend adjustments may require a developer’s assistance.
Use resources like the A11Y project checklist to help figure out what kinds of quick fixes you might be able to implement, such as ensuring that:
- All visual elements, from images to infographics, include alt text.
- Videos include transcripts (this not only helps with accessibility but also boosts your site’s SEO value by including text that search engines can scroll through and index).
- There is sufficient color contrast between the foreground and background, including adequate text color contrast.
- Your font sizes are large enough to be read easily.
- Your headings are formatted in hierarchical order (this is another fix that will also help with SEO since it provides search engines crawlers with a more efficient way to scan your pages).
As you can see, accessibility goes hand in hand with plenty of other website design best practices, including SEO and usability. That means there’s no reason to not pursue accessibility enhancements since you’ll be able to offer a better website to all supporters.
4. Be wary of “magical” solutions.
Finally, we wanted to caution against using any digital tools or resources that claim to be able to automatically improve your website’s accessibility.
For instance, many plugins intended to enhance accessibility often end up interfering with assistive technologies, making them counterproductive to your goals.
There is no “one size fits all” accessibility solution that will instantly solve your site’s accessibility issues, and we recommend against incorporating tools that seem too good to be true.
The best strategy for ensuring ongoing accessibility compliance? Determine your goals, assess your site’s current accessibility state and where you want it to be, and continue making gradual improvements to enhance overall accessibility.
Ultimately, remember that accessibility is a journey. Don’t set out to immediately try to achieve 100% accessibility, because your digital strategy or website theme may not be equipped to reach the highest level of accessibility compliance.
But by making accessibility a guiding principle for your nonprofit’s website strategy, you can ensure that you keep your focus on offering content that is usable by a wider group of supporters.