Most people think of accessibility as making it possible for people with disabilities to use a website, but there are many other reasons to make your site accessible. In this article, we’ll discuss one way to use an accessibility overlay tool to improve the accessibility of your website for all users.
Accessibility Benefits All Site Visitors
Most people don’t think of accessibility as something for them or their visitors, but it can be. Accessible websites are good for everyone because they are more widely compatible with the wide range of browsers and devices that your site visitors might be using. In addition, with an accessible website, you can expect better compatibility with search engines, better usability in terms of keyboard and mouse navigation, and a sturdy foundation for using the website in various other ways.
Accessibility Adds A Robustness To Your Development And Testing
Making your website accessible from the beginning is a good idea. Still, there are other reasons why you might want to add accessibility after you’ve already been working on your website. One of the biggest benefits is that it can help you catch any design or coding errors before they become a problem.
For example, using the accessibility overlay tool will let you know if you’ve made a mistake in positioning anything on the screen with an accuracy level down to pixels, which helps fine-tune small details.
To create an accessibility overlay, you’ll need computer software to let you see the layer of the information below the current window, which is usually hidden from view. You can find out more about this technique in Wikipedia’s article on accessibility overlays. The link also contains a list of several different software programs available for free to accomplish this task.
One of the most popular and powerful accessibility overlay tools that are free and open-source is Accerciser. This software can be installed on any operating system, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. So whether you already have your website up and running or are currently in the development stages for your site, Accerciser will help you immensely.
To download Accerciser, go to the download link for version 3.3. Once you’ve got it installed and running on your computer, open up Firefox and navigate to your website as you normally would. Once the page is loaded, follow these steps:
1) Right-click on any element of the web page that you want to examine the accessibility properties.
2) Choose “Inspect Element” from the pop-up menu that appears.
3) In a few moments, a new window will open with information about the element you’ve just selected. One of these pieces will be labeled as “Accessibility Properties.” Click on this link or press Control+Shift+Alt+A.
4) The next window that appears will recap the element’s properties, but this time with the accessibility information displayed. Here, you can quickly see what other screen readers or website visitors might be reading if they use keyboard keys to navigate through the page’s elements. This should give a clear insight into whether or not your elements are properly marked up.
Accerciser is just one of the many helpful tools that you can use to improve your site’s accessibility and usability for everyone who visits. There are other tools available, so be sure to check them out. You might also want to check out this list of free web accessibility testing tools.