5 questions to ask to gauge web accessibility compliance

April 09, 2014 Written by NetSphere Category: User Experience
5 questions to ask to gauge web accessibility compliance

As websites become more sophisticated, users are expected to get on board with new functionality and contemporary designs. And although cutting-edge websites can give a business a competitive edge, they can also come with a learning curve. To get users to make the leap, UI/UX professionals are often asked to come on board to ease the transition. 

User experience – the UX in the UI/UX – requires a deep understanding of what potential website visitors want and need. According to, to create a great user experience, information must be useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible and credible. And for this blog’s purposes, we’ll focus on the accessible part – giving those with disabilities the ability to fully interact with a site.   

“Accessible sites present information through multiple sensory channels, such as sound and sight, and they allow for additional means of site navigation and interactivity beyond the typical point-and-click-interface: keyboard-based control and voice-based navigation,” explained. “The combination of a multisensory approach and a multi-interactivity approach allows disabled users to access the same information as nondisabled users.”

To determine the accessibility of your website, the following questions can be used as the foundation for future development conversations:

1. Do images include alt tags?

Alt tags are used by screen readers to help vision impaired individuals to identify and interpret what is being displayed on a website. As explained by Penn State’s website, “alt tags should be used for all images, graphical bullets, and graphical horizontal rules. The alt text within the ALT tag should let the user know what an image's content and purpose are.”

2. Are videos captioned?

Like images, it’s important to offer video content in a way that those who are vision-impaired can interact with that content. In addition to including a text transcript of video material, ensure that video player controls are labeled correctly. As an example, it’s essential that screen readers are able to identify controls properly as opposed to reading controls arbitrarily, such as button 1 and button 2.

3. Is functionality dependent upon a mouse?

For many vision-impaired website visitors or individuals with motor disabilities, using a mouse for website navigation can be incredibly difficult. Therefore, tabbed access must be supported. As an example, OS X users rely on full keyboard access mode, allowing them to navigate through windows, menus, toolbars and more without the use of a mouse.

4. What is the user experience when using a screen reader?

To create a great user experience, ensure that there is a “Skip to Main Content” link, which will keep users from having to listen to all of the navigation on every page before hearing the main content on the site. Including alt tags and video captions further supports the experience delivered for those using a screen reader.

5. Can text be resized?

Although most browsers give users the ability to resize text, it’s important to provide an on-screen option that is easy to find. In a usability test focused on elderly individuals, it was revealed that anything less than 12-point type was too small to read. Furthermore, many of the elderly test subjects did not know how to resize the font through the browser.

No matter who your users are, providing a great user experience should be a website owner’s No. 1 goal. Achieving that goal will include providing web accessibility elements, and although the questions included in this blog are not an exhaustive list, they can serve as a great starting point.

To take your accessibility conversations to the next level, let NetSphere Strategies help you establish a UX think tank at your organization. By scheduling a NetSphere Strategies-led workshop, you can improve your website from a UI/UX perspective and while doing so, increase your profits. 

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.