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Given below are a few important points to check website accessibility, that need to be addressed during website design and promotion:
1. Check images for alternative text
Ensure that the images contained in the web pages have relevant alternative text. The web browsers show the alternative text if the images are turned off. It is also useful from the search engine indexing point of view.
The users whose browsers do not support images will be able to see the absence of the image, but will be unable to find out what purpose it carries.
2. Written transcript as an alternative to audio and video:
Ensure your website supplies written transcripts, so that people can understand the message that your website's conveying even without the speakers turned on. It will also enable deaf people to understand the contents.
3. Check that forms are accessible
When you click on the prompt text, the cursor flashes in the box next to that text. If not, your forms may be inaccessible. For example, if you have a prompt "Name" in a contact form, by clicking on "Name", the input box corresponding to the prompt "Name" should flash a cursor.
4. Resizing of text:
Does the text on your website increase in size? To check:
Internet Explorer: View › Text size Netscape: Edit › Preferences › Appearance › Fonts Opera: File › Preferences › Fonts › Minimum font size (pixels) Alternatively, scroll with the wheel of your mouse whilst holding down the control key.
The Lynx browser is a text-only browser and doesn't support many of the features that other browsers such as Internet Explorer have. You can check how your site looks in this browser with the Lynx Viewer. You should be able to view the content, and navigate through the web site. Check here: http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html
6. Verify that the site map is in place.
A site map is vital page that binds together various parts of your website. It is often used by search engines and the people browsing the website. Ensure that the site map is made available.
7. Context sensitive link text:
Ensure that the link text is descriptive. Avoid using terms like ‘Click here’ and ‘more’. Instead use more descriptive terms like "Web page design - common mistakes" or " Better web page design" etc.
8. Web pages must load quickly:
Visitors don't wait for long to view a web page. Normally, 5-8 seconds is the accepted maximum download time for a web page. Hints that may shorten your web page download times:
a. Shorter images
b. Use of CSS
c. Breaking long pages into smaller pages with good navigation etc.
9. Do not restrict the user:
The following methods are found to restrict the user:
a. New Windows: Every time a link is opened in a new window the back button is disabled. This will restrict the user to use back button. Majority of Web users employ the back button as their primary means of navigation.
b. Do not use frames. Frames can cause a number of usability problems.
1. Disabling the back button
2. Bookmarking not possible
3. It is not possible to e-mail the page to someone else (due to the fact that a page contains several frames).
4. Problems with printing ( It is difficult to print a page with frames).
5. External links open in the same frame window.
6. Search engine indexing and optimization issues.
10. Use commonly accepted features such as the following:
a. Home button: Use the top-left corner image (logo or website name) as the home button to go back to the home page.
b. Navigation: Use consistent navigation. Usually, to the left of the text.
c. Use the buttons "About Us", "Contact Us" etc on the top right of every page.