If you own an online shop I really suggest that you make it as accessible as possible. European Accessibility Act will require it from you, but let’s rather think about getting more customers, non-discrimination of people with disabilities and better search engine optimization as the main drivers for making eCommerce accessible.
To claim that our product is accessible needs more than just WCAG audit that did not discover any fails. Real users, people with disabilities are the only one that can really reflect on the accessibility of our products. That’s why we should include them in all reasonable parts of our production processes. Otherwise we may think we deliver accessibility but the truth can be opposite.
I try to summarize on the hard parts of accessibility as I detect them. Some parts of digital production are actually simpler to make accessible and some are not, so reflections on that may help you to invest resources correctly.
Simple reflection – accessibility is about alternatives; giving users different possibilities and respecting their preferences and needs. It’s about making things that can be accessed in multiple different ways – alternatives.
The more I know about alternative text for images the more I understand the complexity of it. There are differences between users and content creators about decorative and informative image objectives and developers should never decide if image will be decorative or not. HTML standard includes a lot on this as well and should be read by more people for better accessibility and better web in general.
Time flies and this blog has now 100 posts. Counting posts does not count for much but I try to consistently write about accessibility to think out loud. I also tried to summarize some quite special thoughts about complexity and how accessibility must be a team effort to be successful. On the end I also added some stats…
Some people can treat an image as decorative and therefore skip the alternative text, but there are others that may treat same image in same context as more than just decoration. Maybe it is best to just add text for images that are potentially decorative and then let users decide for them selves.
We remember the rule for alternative text on decorative images, right. But is it really so clear what an decorative image is. Sometimes SEO wants us to have alternative text for images that do not directly add to the information. Should we do it for the bots or should we save time for screen-reader users? It depends. As always…
Social media is one of the most used internet services. And people with difficulties are users too. And as they should have the right to work as well – they do use LinkedIn. So it must really be accessible. But, is it?
Do not think that alternative text is a set and forget thing. Picture can mean different things in different contexts, so the alternative text must respect that.
Search engines are actually screen readers if we simplify them so accessibility is extremely important for search engine optimization as well.
Wouldn’t it be nice if computer would just make a perfect alternative text for us when we include the image? While there are some services promising this – they should be manually checked and corrected! But in the future…
We can all benefit from textual descriptions of images and other primarily visual elements in digital content. Therefore we must always remember the need for alternative texts…