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The Importance of Accessibility on Nonprofit Websites

accessibility device used when using a computer

A website is essential for any nonprofit organization looking to grow its support base, provide information, and stay connected with its community. But for nonprofits to make the most of their online presence, their website must be accessible to all.

Accessible websites are not only beneficial for those with disabilities, but they can also help nonprofits increase their reach and visibility, establish trust, and improve engagement with their target audience. This blog post explores the importance of an accessible website for nonprofits and its many advantages.

Website accessibility refers to the ability of all users, regardless of ability or disability, to access and interact with web content. For nonprofit organizations, accessible websites can better support their communities by creating a more inclusive and equitable online presence. It is also beneficial from a legal standpoint, as it helps to ensure that websites comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other accessibility regulations.

Legal And Ethical Considerations For Website Accessibility

A person using a braille reader and keyboard.Website accessibility is important in creating an inclusive and equitable online presence for any organization, especially nonprofits. It is not only a legal requirement in many countries, but it is also important to demonstrate an ethical commitment to providing a website that is accessible to all users. This includes people with disabilities, language barriers, and other needs.

The following are some of the legal and ethical considerations that nonprofits should take into account when designing their websites:

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA requires that all public entities (which includes nonprofits) make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. This includes providing alternative text descriptions for images, using simple and easy-to-understand language, and ensuring that forms are easy to complete.

Section 508

Under Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act, federal agencies are mandated to ensure that their websites are accessible. What’s more, the Department of Justice has interpreted this requirement to apply to private entities as well. As such, it’s important for organizations to prioritize web accessibility to promote equitable access for all individuals.

European Accessibility Act

In the European Union (EU), the European Accessibility Act was passed to ensure that all websites within the region are accessible to people with disabilities. This act applies to both public and private entities, including nonprofits, and mandates that websites be designed in such a way as to enable everyone to have equal access to information and services.

The European Accessibility Act sets minimum requirements for website accessibility, covering aspects such as color contrast, text size, and navigation. Additionally, it requires organizations to offer accessible formats of information, such as audio or braille versions, and to ensure that any third-party content on their website is also accessible.

United Nations Convention on The Rights of Persons With Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is a global treaty that aims to promote and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. One of the key aspects of this convention is its focus on digital accessibility, recognizing the importance of ensuring equal access to information and communication technologies for all.

In line with this goal, the UNCRPD encourages all countries to create laws and regulations that require websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes providing equal access to digital content, such as text, images, and multimedia, and ensuring that websites are designed to accommodate various assistive technologies.

Ethical Considerations

Making a website accessible is about more than just meeting legal requirements; it’s also about demonstrating a commitment to equity and inclusion for all users. When a nonprofit creates an accessible website, it sends a message that it values the inclusion of all people, regardless of their abilities.

By considering both the legal and ethical aspects of web accessibility, nonprofits can create a more equitable and inclusive online experience for all users. This approach ensures that everyone has equal access to the information and opportunities available on the website, regardless of any physical or language barriers they may face.

Improved User Experience For All Visitors.

Having an accessible website for nonprofits means that all visitors can easily interact with and navigate the site, regardless of ability. By improving the user experience for everyone, nonprofits can ensure that all visitors have access to their services and offerings.

Additionally, making a website accessible to people with disabilities will also benefit people who don’t have disabilities, such as those who use text-to-speech software or are on slow internet connections.

Furthermore, accessibility-friendly websites are more likely to be found on search engines and rank higher due to their improved usability. Thus, making a website accessible improves the user experience for all visitors and allows nonprofits to reach a wider audience and potentially increase their reach. How accessible is your website? Download our Testing the Accessibility of Your Website Guide to find out!

Best Practices For Creating An Accessible Nonprofit Website

Creating an accessible website for your nonprofit organization is essential for fostering an inclusive, equitable online presence. Below are some best practices to ensure your website is as accessible as possible. Please keep in mind that this is the not the end-all be-all list of accessibility practices. This area is always growing and changing.

Utilize Alt Tags To Describe Visuals

Making your website accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments, requires careful attention to detail. One important aspect of this is the use of alt tags for images. Alt tags are short text descriptions of images that can be read aloud by screen readers, enabling those with impaired vision to understand the information conveyed by the image.

When adding images to your website, it’s essential to include a detailed and descriptive alt tag that accurately conveys the image’s content. This means avoiding vague or generic terms and providing specific details about the image. For example, instead of using an alt tag like “woman walking her dog,” consider using a more detailed tag like “a woman walking her golden retriever in the park on a sunny day.”

Alt tags not only improve the accessibility of your website but can also benefit your overall search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By providing detailed descriptions of images, you’re helping search engines understand the content of your website, which can boost your website’s visibility in search results.

Incorporate Semantic HTML Markup

Creating an accessible website requires more than just adding alt tags to images. Another important aspect to consider is the use of semantic markup in your HTML. Semantic markup involves using HTML elements that clearly define the structure and relationships of web content, making it easier for assistive technologies to understand the content and context of a website.

By using semantic markup, you’re helping to create a more accessible and inclusive online experience for all users. Assistive technologies, such as screen readers, rely on semantic markup to accurately read and navigate website content. Without proper markup, these technologies may struggle to interpret the meaning and context of content on a website, making it difficult for users with disabilities to access the information they need.

For example, using the “h1” tag for page headings and the “p” tag for paragraphs helps establish a clear hierarchy of content on the page. This can help users with visual impairments understand the structure and flow of the content, even if they can’t see it. Similarly, using “aria-label” attributes to label interactive elements like buttons and links can help clarify their purpose for users with screen readers.

Design For Mobile Accessibility

Creating a website that is accessible on mobile devices is essential for reaching today’s users, who are increasingly browsing the web on their smartphones and tablets. Ensuring mobile accessibility means ensuring that visitors can easily navigate your site on various devices and screen sizes, without sacrificing functionality or usability.

To achieve this, it’s important to use consistent navigation patterns and design elements across devices. This means ensuring that menus, buttons, and other interactive elements are placed in consistent locations and behave the same way across devices. It’s also important to optimize the loading speed of your pages on mobile devices, as slow loading times can frustrate users and cause them to abandon your site.

In addition to these design considerations, it’s crucial to provide clear instructions for interacting with any interactive elements on your site. This means using descriptive labels and text for buttons and links, as well as providing clear instructions for completing any forms or other interactive elements on your site.

By prioritizing mobile accessibility, you’re not only improving the user experience for your mobile visitors but also ensuring that your website is accessible to all users, regardless of their device or screen size. By following these tips, you can create a website that is both beautiful and functional, no matter how users choose to access it.

Use Subtitles And Transcripts For Videos

Including subtitles and transcripts with your video content is an important aspect of website accessibility. Not only do they enable visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing to access audio content, but they also make video content more accessible for visitors with cognitive or learning disabilities.

By including subtitles or captions for your videos, you are ensuring that all visitors can understand the audio content, even if they are unable to hear it. This is especially important for videos with spoken dialogue or narration. Providing transcripts of the audio content also allows visitors to read the content in a format that is more accessible for them, such as through a screen reader.

Furthermore, subtitles and transcripts can also be beneficial for non-native speakers who may have difficulty understanding spoken content in a different language. By providing subtitles or transcripts in multiple languages, you can make your video content accessible to a wider range of audiences.

Include A Search Feature

Having a search feature on your website is a vital aspect of website accessibility and usability. By providing a search box on your site, visitors can easily and quickly find the information they need without having to navigate through multiple pages or menus.

This feature is especially helpful for visitors who may be using assistive technology or have disabilities that make it difficult to navigate complex menus. By providing a search feature, you are making it easier for all visitors to access the content they need on your website.

To ensure that your search feature is accessible and effective, it’s important to follow best practices such as providing clear instructions and ensuring that the search box is visible and easy to use. It’s also important to use meaningful and descriptive labels for the search box and any related search results.

In addition to improving accessibility, a search feature can also provide a better user experience for all visitors. By making it easier for visitors to find the content they need, you can help them quickly accomplish their goals on your website.

Wrap Up

Creating an accessible website is vital in creating a more inclusive and equitable online presence for any nonprofit organization. It not only helps to meet legal and ethical requirements, but it also improves the user experience of all visitors. Making your website accessible is essential for engaging with a wider audience, increasing donations, and expanding outreach. With the help of best practices and the right resources, it’s possible to create an accessible website that ensures everyone can access and engage with your nonprofit’s mission. For more information on creating an accessible website for your nonprofit organization, we can help! Contact us today.

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mike richwalsky

Mike Richwalsky


Mike is principal at Gas Mark 8, Ltd., a creative marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio and Manchester, England. We do good work for non-profits, higher ed, and small businesses in the US and UK. An accomplished speaker, he focuses on the technical side of marketing and web development, with a focus on digital marketing, video, cloud, and social media.
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