Have you ever heard of a POUR website? That refers to any site that’s compliant with all four of these concepts:
Companies, NGOs and educational institutions who are legally obliged to follow certain accessibility requirements don’t necessarily have to concern themselves with the POUR principles. These aren’t codified in law or written down in some press release put out by the authorities. However, they’re a good set of rules created by graphic artists and type designers that can help you follow set regulations in a natural way.
If you’re interested in creating compliant sites that still look and read well, then these four key principles are a great way to tackle your accessibility-related issues. Online resources created under the auspices of these rules should pass all tests put out by tools like SiteCompliance as well as greatly reduce the risk of falling afoul of rules that could make your organization a target for lawsuits.
Perhaps the best way to go over these principles is to take a look at each one individually.
A majority of content online is visual to some degree. In order to perceive the message that someone is attempting to communicate, people will need to have at least partial use of their sight. While sight-related issues are among the most common disabilities, they’re also some of the easiest to plan for.
Always make sure that color is never the sole method of transmitting a particular piece of information. Those with a color vision deficiency would have difficulty discerning the difference between various options if color was the only deciding factor.
Considering that people are trained to read darker text on a lighter background, you may want to forgo the use of color altogether. You can design fairly effectively with nothing more than sizes and typefaces. Printers did that for years when typesetting books.
This also can help people who use screen reading technology to overcome visual problems as well as those who use command line-based utilities to browse the web.
Every link you place should be accessible simply by using the Tab and Shift keys to browse through them. This can help those who can only use a keyboard or another similar device. You’ll also want to make sure that you include a complete site map that lists all your resources. Site maps are helpful accessibility aids to many users and might even boost your rankings with search engines.
Too many designers still consider usability and accessibility to be different things. The same rules really apply to both, and following them can make your site more robust as well.
For instance, you should always avoid using embedded content if you don’t need to. When you’re required to, make sure that you provide captions or transcripts that make it easy for users who aren’t able to stream certain types of media.
On the other hand, alternative representations of information may be helpful to some users. If that’s the case, then consider presenting them as monochrome figures if at all possible. Consider the example of someone who provides educational material or performs a public service and has to offer layout plans as a result.
Would a fancy planogram really convey more information than a traditional computer-generated monochrome one? It’s doubtful that it ever would.
Follow these rules and you shouldn’t have a problem passing compliance tests. What do you do if you’ve already hosted a great deal of material online and need to find out which ones are in violation of ADA guidelines? Contact us online today and learn more about how you can avoid legal headaches with a single simple tool.