As a nonprofit organization, your website is a critical tool for reaching donors, volunteers, and the communities you serve. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same access to information online. In order to ensure that your organization is inclusive and welcoming to everyone, it’s essential to make your website accessible for all users, regardless of ability.
What is website accessibility?
Website accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing websites in a way that makes them usable for people with disabilities. This can include people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility impairments, and cognitive impairments. In order to be accessible, a website should be designed in a way that allows people with disabilities to navigate and interact with the content on the site using assistive technology.
Why is website accessibility important for nonprofits?
By 2025, it’s estimated that one-quarter of the world’s population will have a disability. For nonprofit organizations, this means that a growing number of your supporters and constituents may face barriers when accessing your website.
Making your website accessible not only ensures that your organization is able to reach as many people as possible, it’s also a legal requirement. In the United States, organizations that receive federal funding or are considered to be places of public accommodation are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which includes guidelines for website accessibility.
In addition, making your website accessible can help to increase your organization’s visibility online. By ensuring that your website is optimized for assistive technology, you will also improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and make it easier for users to find and engage with your organization online.
How can you make sure your nonprofit website is accessible?
Website accessibility not only reflects the values of inclusivity and social responsibility but also ensures compliance with legal requirements such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here are ten tips to enhance website accessibility for nonprofits:
1. Understand Accessibility Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with established accessibility standards like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These guidelines provide a framework for making your website more accessible, covering components content structure, color contrast, text alternatives, and keyboard navigation.
2. Implement Semantic HTML: Use hierarchical semantic HTML tags to structure your content. This aids in screen reader comprehension and assists in maintaining a logical tab order. Heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) help organize content, while lists, tables, and forms use markup in accordance with WCAG guidelines.
3. Provide Alt Text for Images: Ensure all images have descriptive alternative text (alt text). This text is read aloud by screen readers and provides context for non-visual users. It’s especially important for conveying the context of an image for users who may not be able to see it clearly.
4. Keyboard Accessibility: Test your website’s functionality using only a keyboard, as some users may not be able to use a mouse. Users with motor disabilities rely on keyboard navigation, so it’s important that all interactive elements can be accessed, focused on, and activated without a mouse.
5. Use Descriptive Links Create clear, concise, and descriptive link text that gives users a clear idea of where they will be taken when they click on a link. Avoid generic phrases like “click here” and instead provide context about the linked content. This benefits all users, especially those relying on screen readers.
6. Caption and Transcribe Media: Ensure that multimedia content, such as videos or podcasts, includes accurate captions and transcriptions. This makes the content accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals and enhances search engine optimization.
7. Maintain Contrast and Readability: Opt for high contrast between text and background colors to improve legibility. Use and test for adequate color contrast to make it easier for users with visual impairments to read your content. Choose font styles and sizes that are easy to read, and use consistent typography throughout your site.
8. Focus on Forms: Ensure that all form fields have clear labels and instructions. Use HTML form elements properly to facilitate auto-complete suggestions and provide error messages that are easily understandable.
9. Test and Iterate: Regularly test your website’s accessibility with the help of automated tools and manual testing. Listen to feedback from users with disabilities and make necessary improvements to your site.
10. Create an Accessibility Statement: Communicate your commitment to accessibility by adding an accessibility statement on your website. This document can outline the steps you’ve taken to ensure accessibility and provide contact information for users to report issues.
Website Accessibility Resources & Tools
- WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools
- WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind
- Google Chrome DevTools: Accessibility Features Reference
Prioritizing website accessibility for your nonprofit not only ensures compliance with the law but also extends your organization’s reach to a broader audience. It’s about creating an inclusive digital space that welcomes and serves everyone, regardless of their abilities. By following these ten tips, you’ll be on your way to making your website a powerful tool for achieving your nonprofit’s mission while leaving no one behind.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have your website evaluated by a professional who specializes in website accessibility. Day is New Creative provides this service can help you identify areas for improvement and suggest specific solutions. Contact us for a quote.