Accessibility matters all over the world. Inclusivity provides equality for all, regardless of what disability someone may have. This applies to the digital world as well. Accessibility has become a major component of all web-based content, especially forms that users need to access. This is an important business practice that all websites should not overlook. Whether you are promoting a product or a service on your website, you need your content to be accessible to everyone. Disabilities impact us all. It is up to us to make the digital world more manageable.
“61 million adults in the United States live with a disability” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Website Accessibility means that all features within your website are accessible to everyone, regardless of their disability. Accessibility allows individuals with disabilities to use adaptive features or software to access the content on your website, just as someone would who does not have a disability.
Accessibility matters, especially when your website contains forms that are used as a touch point for your business. Whether it is a contact form or you’re applying for a job on the website, the software the individuals use must be compatible with your website. If it’s not, you are losing valuable customers.
There are many barriers that people with disabilities face while using the internet. However, that is why it is key for website developers and content writers to ensure they are following best practices when it comes to accessibility on their website and the forms that are needed for these individuals.
The following are common barriers that people with various disabilities face while using websites forms:
Website-accessible forms are extremely important for your business within the digital world. As we have mentioned before, barriers come in different shapes and sizes for individuals with disabilities. The most prominent barrier faced when filling out website forms is that if the user is visually impaired, they are unable to identify what is to be filled out in each field. Another factor that plays into this is that the forms are unreadable by screen readers.
Ensuring that your website forms are accessible and friendly promotes inclusivity for everyone, and people notice. Having an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone within the digital space reflects your company and increases your brand image. Another important factor to consider is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG applies to government websites and web applications. Although, it is recommended for best practices that you should follow these guidelines as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to best serve everyone who wishes to access your website and content to provide an inclusive environment for all.
Knowing the importance of ensuring your forms are accessible to everyone on your website is one thing, but how do you check to see if your forms are actually accessible? Here are a few ways you can check, along with best practices for creating accessible forms to ensure you do not fall behind and cause issues for you or your users.
One way you can check to see if your forms are accessible is to use a built-in accessibility checker. This will check your form to find areas that may not be suitable for people with disabilities and provide recommended actions for areas of improvement such as alternative text, colour scheme, and font. This can be used as a last step once the form is fully completed and ready to add to your website to ensure you have not missed anything. Software such as Microsoft Office has built-in accessibility checkers which can be seen below.
Properly labeled form fields with example text are essential for your forms and is considered a best practice for accessibility. The key to a properly labeled form field is to keep it simple but direct. You do not want to overcomplicate the form fields, especially when accessibility is the main focus. Additionally, including example text within the fields increasingly helps individuals that are visually impaired as it provides them with further confirmation of the correct information to fill in.
Here is an example from our website that displays the labeled and pre-filled fields on a form:
Alt-text is always a priority and best practice that everyone needs to implement, not just on forms but across all content areas. This simple action provides individuals who are visually impaired, a descriptive explanation of what is within the photo or where a link will take you. This allows the individuals to feel a sense of confidence and safety when on your website and filling out forms.
The colour scheme on your forms may not be suitable for individuals that are colour blind. Incompatible colour schemes will make it difficult for these individuals to differentiate from areas within the form and cause them to miss specific field areas that are required to be filled out.
Colours to avoid when creating forms include:
For a more extensive list of colours to avoid, check out Color Blind Friendly Palette.
The last form-accessible best practice to include is to ensure your forms support standard input mechanisms. Examples of these mechanisms include pointing devices or user-provided keyboards. This allows the user who is accessing your forms to use accommodations to make it easier for them to access and complete forms in a proper manner.
People across the world struggle with disabilities every day. They are provided with accommodations to make their life a little bit easier. Why should that be any different in the digital world? Digital barriers will always be present, and it is our job to break these barriers. If you struggle to keep your website user-friendly and accessible for everyone, we can be the solution for you. Contact us to begin your journey to make your website more accessible for all.
AUTHOR: Stuart Silcox