Web Accessibility: Best Practices

In today’s digital age, ensuring web accessibility is not just a legal obligation but also a moral one. Creating a website that is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities, ensures an inclusive user experience and broadens your reach. Here are some best practices to follow to make your website accessible to all users.

1. Use Semantic HTML

Semantic HTML is the foundation of web accessibility. By using HTML elements for their intended purpose, you provide clear structure and meaning to your content. For example:

  • Use <header>, <nav>, <main>, and <footer> for layout.
  • Use <h1> to <h6> for headings to define the hierarchy.
  • Use <ul>, <ol>, and <li> for lists.

Semantic HTML helps screen readers and other assistive technologies understand and navigate your site more effectively.

2. Provide Text Alternatives for Non-Text Content

Non-text content such as images, videos, and icons should have text alternatives:

  • Alt text: Every image should have an alt attribute that describes its content and function.
  • Captions and transcripts: Provide captions for videos and transcripts for audio content to make them accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • ARIA labels: Use Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) labels to describe complex interactive elements.

3. Ensure Keyboard Accessibility

Many users rely on keyboards to navigate websites. Ensure that all interactive elements can be accessed and operated using a keyboard:

  • Use logical tab order to navigate through links, buttons, and form fields.
  • Ensure that focus indicators are visible so users can see which element is currently selected.
  • Avoid keyboard traps where users cannot navigate away from a component using the keyboard.

4. Design for Color Blindness and Low Vision

Design your site with color accessibility in mind:

  • Contrast: Ensure sufficient color contrast between text and background to make reading easier for users with low vision. Tools like the WebAIM Contrast Checker can help.
  • Color independence: Do not rely solely on color to convey important information. Use text labels, patterns, or shapes as additional indicators.

5. Provide Resizable Text

Users with visual impairments often need to enlarge text. Ensure your website supports text resizing without breaking the layout:

  • Use relative units (e.g., em or rem) rather than fixed units (e.g., pixels) for font sizes.
  • Test your design with different zoom levels to ensure it remains usable and readable.

6. Implement ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) Properly

ARIA roles and properties enhance the accessibility of dynamic content and complex UI controls:

  • Use ARIA roles to define the function of elements, such as role="button" for interactive controls.
  • Use ARIA properties and states to provide additional information, such as aria-expanded to indicate collapsible content.

7. Ensure Forms are Accessible

Forms are crucial for user interaction, so make sure they are accessible:

  • Labels: Associate labels with form controls using the for attribute.
  • Instructions: Provide clear instructions and use placeholder text appropriately.
  • Error messages: Ensure error messages are easy to understand and accessible to screen readers.

8. Provide Clear Navigation

Clear and consistent navigation helps users find information more easily:

  • Use a logical and consistent layout.
  • Provide a site map and breadcrumbs to help users understand their location within the site.
  • Use descriptive link text that makes sense out of context.

9. Test with Real Users

The best way to ensure your website is accessible is to test it with real users, including those with disabilities:

  • Conduct usability testing with diverse user groups.
  • Use automated accessibility testing tools like Axe or Lighthouse, but do not rely solely on them. Manual testing is crucial.

10. Stay Updated with Accessibility Standards

Web accessibility standards evolve, so stay informed about the latest guidelines and best practices:

  • Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
  • Keep an eye on updates to legal requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the European Union’s Web Accessibility Directive.


Web accessibility is essential for creating an inclusive and user-friendly online experience. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your website is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Not only does this broaden your audience, but it also demonstrates your commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity. Remember, an accessible web is a better web for all.

Nick Winters

Nick performs New Media Communications at Chelan County PUD. In his spare time, he takes on freelance projects and fun creative opportunities via Pixel to Press.




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