Traversing the Internet — Accessibility and Modern Websites
Kaitlin de Chastelain Finnigan
Nov 22, 2019 · 4 min read
Websites are becoming increasingly more interactive, seeming to respond to our every action as we need. There’s no denying that the user experience as an internet user has drastically improved. However, as these sites are more visually dependent and designed for use with a mouse it begs the question, what if you couldn’t use these tools? Trust in a web development company like VizworX to provide the best in interactive web application development.
When you navigate a website, your eyes take in all information on the screen; you move the mouse with your hand and the cursor interacts with the elements on a page. You can navigate anywhere and do anything. Now, imagine you don’t have the dexterity to use a mouse, you rely solely on keyboard controls. How does the experience change? Is there anything you can’t do? How would your daily web-surfing and work change? Is there any specific websites you can’t live without?
There are many ways people navigate the internet, including solely using keyboard controls, screen readers, and manipulating browser zoom levels. These can create unforeseen barriers if the design of a site is not conscious of such limitations. Take as an example an individual with low vision who is unable to read small font on screens. To be able to still read text, they use the zoom features on browsers to make the text bigger. However, due to elements overlapping on the page, the text cuts off and some of the crucial information is now lost. They now have no way to read all the text and are blocked from further interaction with the site.
In the case of total blindness, a screen reader can be used to provide information about portions of the screen and keyboard shortcuts to navigate based on the element. Screen readers provide a linear stream of information based on the tags certain features of the website have. They can encounter barriers when the structure of the website doesn’t follow a logical pattern. Meaning, the next element seems to have no relevance to the previous element. The screen reader jumps from place to place and the site becomes impossible to comprehend.
Keyboard controls are also fundamental for individuals with motor impairments. With a complete lack of motor control, a speech to keyboard control can be used to interact with the site. Meaning, a user speaks a command that corresponds to a keyboard shortcut set up through an external program. This allows them to navigate through buttons and menus. Therefore, any buttons or interactions are not keyboard compatible they cannot be accessed. An everyday instance of this is, if a purchase item button cannot be selected, any further movement in the interaction is impossible, so anyone attempting to purchase something that cannot use a mouse is effectively prohibited.
Designing for Accessibility
To create an accessible site, designing with the conscious intent to make it accessible goes a long way. There are small things that can have an enormous impact on how an individual can or cannot interact with a website. Including the appropriate alternative text on media, logical layout and much more allow all users to have a positive experience with a site.
VizworX is an enterprise software development company based in Calgary, Alberta. They specialize in crafting digital experiences through advanced technology. To learn more about their custom software development services in the immersive technology, data visualization services and web development spaces, check out their website.