Tips for making your website user-friendly for the visually impaired

The internet has become a part of our life. It is so integrated in our daily life that we use it to check the weather, make healthcare appointments and pay bills - not to mention, shop for boats! The point is, everyone now relies on the internet to get things done, so it’s important to ensure that your website is accessible for all users, including people who are visually impaired. 

Our team of web experts compiled a list of best practices and helpful tips for making your website more user-friendly for people with visual impairments. 
Please note, this list is not inclusive of all technical requirements but can be used as a starting point for you and your website provider. In addition, there are a variety of free tools available that will identify areas of your website that should to be updated. 
1. Use Alt Text on Images
Alt text is short for Alternative Text (also known as Alt Attributes, Alt Descriptions and Alt Tags)
Users that are visually impaired use screen reading software that reads the Alt Text out loud. This is the only way a visually impaired person will know what an image truly is.

For more information on alt-text, see our article on how to write an effective alt-text.

2.  Use periods with abbreviations
Though it may be faster to type out abbreviations without any periods, it is challenging for visually impaired users to pick-up on these abbreviations and understand the context of a sentence.
Screen reading software, although technologically advanced, may not be able to read back abbreviations correctly. Being mindful when writing your website copy and adding periods to words like C.P.Y.B. or M.R.A.A., can make a big difference for someone who is visually impaired.
3.  Use HTML structure correctly
Every heard of H1, H2 or paragraph tags? If not, no worries - we have you covered! These type of tags exist in HTML code and are used to properly structure a webpage and overall, a website. Visually impaired users do not use a mouse to navigate. It's best to make sure content is accessible through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes.
When a website’s HTML structure is sound and properly identified, users who are visually impaired can use the arrow keys or the tab key to access a particular area of a website with ease. On the contrary, when a website’s structure is unorganized, users may experience problems accessing content.
Have a discussion with your web admin to assure your HTML code is optimally setup.
4.  Describe your links
Whenever you include a link in your content, try to avoid hyperlinking text that provides no context for where the link takes the user.
Screen reader users often do not read the link within the context of the rest of the page. Using descriptive text properly explains the context of links.
For example, if you are pointing visitors to the "About Us” page, do not do the following: " Click here to read about our company."  Instead, link the text this way: "To learn more about our company, read About Us."
5. Design your forms for easy accessibility
When form fields are not labeled properly, the screen reader user does not have the same cues available, making it almost impossible to know what information should be entered.
Each field in your form should have a well-positioned, descriptive label. For example, if the field is for a person's name, it should be labeled appropriately as either "Full Name" or have two separate fields labeled as "First Name" and "Last Name."
There are many online resources to help you design your website for the visually impaired, so we encourage you to explore additional websites for more information. 
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