When we think of accessible websites, we often think about web visitors with limited vision. A talk by Kelly Dwan at WordCamp Europe made me realize that we should also be thinking about people with limited mobility when we work on websites — at least for local businesses. People with disabilities may be looking for specific kinds of information when they visit your website.
Make sure it’s available.
Kelly was talking about websites for WordCamp events. But the point she made is important any time you have a website that encourages people to visit your store or office. An individual with disabilities may go online to make sure that the place is accessible before visiting.
Will people with disabilities be comfortable?
You know that visitors may check out your website to make sure of your hours, your location, and the specific services you offer. Visitors with disabilities may also be looking for information like this:
- Where is handicapped parking available near your location?
- What route from that parking to the door will be fully accessible?
- Do you have accessible restrooms?
- If so, where are they located?
- Where are ramps located? Will people using ramps be separated from the rest of the visitors?
- Are entrances obstructed in any way?
- Is signage large and high contrast?
- Do doors have levers rather than knobs?
- Does furniture pose an obstruction inside your office or waiting room?
Most visitors won’t be running down a checklist, but people with disabilities may go to your website to see whether your facility looks as though it will be comfortable. Does it seem to be fully accessible, or will it require a lot of effort to come and go in and around your space?
A welcoming website
How can you show web visitors that your space is accessible? Here are some options:
- Photos of your space or building
- A note saying, “Fully accessible” prominently displayed
- A map showing accessible entrances, parking, and restrooms
- A phone number with an invitation to “Call if you need special accommodations”
Also consider finding listings of businesses like yours which are accessible — these listings are often the first results when you Google “accessible gyms,” “accessible spa services,” “accessible dental practices” and the like. If your facility is not listed, contact the owner of the list and ask to be added.
You’ve made the effort to make sure that your practice or business is accessible. Make the effort to show that on your website, too.