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How to Overcome Common Web Accessibility Issues for the Visually Impaired

Last updated: December 29, 2023

The digital world has made life easier for many, but it can also present challenges for those with disabilities. Poor web accessibility can lead to a lack of independence and opportunities for people with vision problems. Understanding common web accessibility issues for visually impaired individuals is key to creating an inclusive online experience. This article will provide an overview of the most common problems encountered by people with visual impairments when using the internet and strategies to address them.

Web Accessibility Issues to Solve for the Visually Impaired

  1. Improper Heading Structure

Improper heading structure can be an accessibility issue for visually impaired individuals who rely on screen readers to access and navigate digital content. Screen readers use the heading structure of a page to help users understand its organization and hierarchy and to navigate to different sections of the page quickly and efficiently. When headings are improperly structured, screen readers may misinterpret the organization of the content or fail to recognize certain headings altogether, making it more difficult for visually impaired users to understand and navigate the content.

Solution: To overcome this issue, it's essential to follow best practices for creating a proper heading structure in web content like:

  • Using heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) in sequential order to indicate the hierarchy of headings on the page
  • Avoiding the use of non-heading elements (such as bold or italicized text) as headings
  • Ensuring that each heading accurately describes the content it precedes
  1. Including Non-HTML Content

The non-HTML content like Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations can become an accessibility issue. So, what is an accessible PDF or Word document? A screen reader needs the document to have a proper page structure. Without an appropriate page structure, the content becomes unorganized, and screen readers cannot read it to navigate the user to the content appropriately.

Solution: Tag your PDFs properly to make documents accessible for people with vision impairments. Several document remediation software can help you get the job done.

  1. Excessive Navigation Links

Another web accessibility issue for visually impaired individuals is having too many navigational links on a webpage. It makes it difficult for them to navigate the page using screen readers. When there are too many navigational links, it can be difficult for users to locate the links they need, and it can also increase the amount of time it takes for users to navigate through the page.

Solution: You can overcome this challenge by simplifying the navigation structure by grouping related links and avoiding redundant or unnecessary links.

  1. Missing Link Text

Text links are the elements on a webpage that allows users using screen readers to access the content effortlessly and navigate through it smoothly. When there's an absence of link texts in the content, these users cannot interact with the content and fail to understand the context and purpose of the information present.

Solution: Include link texts that are descriptive enough to let your users understand their relevance and context. Also, make the links distinguishable from other content by highlighting them in a different color or underlining them.

  1. Poorly Structured Forms

Poorly-structured forms are another web accessibility issue that can hinder the way people with visual disabilities can interact with your content. Forms are common website functions that allow users to subscribe to your services, fill in their email and name, or simply apply for a job. Several issues can arise with forms, like inappropriate labels and instructions can make people lose control over conveying their information.

Solution: To ensure that input fields and contact forms are accessible to everyone:

  • Have clear labels for people using screen readers to read them without difficulties
  • The buttons should contain clear text so people using assistive technologies know what will happen after completing the form
  • CAPTCHAs should have other options like audio or other accessible alternatives
  • Remove time-outs on forms since people using assistive technologies will require more time to fill out the form or provide information that there's a time-out for this form page
  1. No Captions and Subtitles to a Video

People who are hard of hearing find videos with proper subtitles and captions helpful as they have a script to follow if they can't listen to what is happening in the video.

Solution: A voice recognition software can help you assist in setting captions and subtitles in a video to make your video content more accessible for not only people with hearing problems but also someone who is out in the crowd without a handsfree.

  1. Improper Table Markups

Tables are meant to linearize the content on the page, yet if you fail to use proper markup, there will arise web accessibility issues. People using a screen reader won't be able to obtain information to understand the data in the table fully.

Solution: You can ensure the data tables have proper markups by allowing table elements in the HTML to define captions, table headers, and data cells. A properly marked table should always contain the following:

  • Table header (<th> element in HTML)
  • Row and column header (headers attribute)
  • Captions (<caption> element in HTML)
  1. Inadequate Color Contrast

Low text color contrast on a webpage is one of the most common web accessibility issues that make content inconsumable and a website hard to navigate for people with vision disabilities like low vision and color blindness.

Solution: A contrast of at least 4:5:1 for small texts, while a color contrast ratio of 3:1 for larger texts will suffice. Make sure to run your webpage in a color contrast checker to ensure the text, background, and interactive elements have a proper color contrast ratio.

Bottom Line

Lastly, apart from the above web accessibility issues, not having accurate and descriptive image alt texts can also create issues for people using assistive technologies. Screen readers cannot read non-text content like graphics and images, and alt texts provide accurate information describing what the image contains. So, add alternative texts to your images for better readability.

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Emilie Brown
Emilie Brown works with the Digital Marketing team at PREP, an AI-based remediation software that enables businesses to create WCAG and ADA-compliant PDFs in minutes. Her approach and methodology is simple, concise, and to the point and connect with readers seeking for solution-driven content on topics related to accessibility and remediation. Apart from her time at work she loves to spend time with her dog, volunteer and play her guitar.
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