Make sure your church web site is accessible to everyone.

In this blog post, I would like to talk to churches about the importance of accessibility within their church website.

What I would like for readers to get out of this blog post today is when your church website ignore accessibility. It ruins the user experience for the potential new members of your church.

What is Web Accessibility

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web.

People who have specific limitations should be able to understand, navigate, interact and contribute to your church website.

Web accessibility also encompasses serving people without disabilities but for reasons beyond their control might suffer from a bad user experience , for example

  • There are also people that are temporarily disabled- (broken arms, -etc.)
  • The elderly that visit your site may be in excellent health but reading small fonts might be a problem.

Assistive Technologies

Before I give you some tips on how to make your church website web accessible. Let me explain three types of assistive technologies that many people that suffer from disabilities use to access and contribute to the internet.

  • Screen readers is a program that helps visual impaired people to use a computer. Simply put, a screen reader will “read” (speak) the content of  your church website page to the visual impaired user.
  • Voice recognition software converts spoken words into written text. It can also be use to control your computer by opening up programs and surfing the net.
  • Alternative input devices is a assistive technology that includes head pointers, motion tracking or eye tracking and specialized keyboards and mouses. When a person cannot use an ordinary  mouse or a keyboard this technology gives them access to the web.

Now let’s talk about how to develop and design your church website to work well with these technologies and how to be inclusive to as many users of your church website as you possible can.

Multimedia

When it comes to multimedia keep the hearing impaired in mind. Include captioning and transcripts when it comes to video and audio files. There is software that can automatically provide synchronized text that goes along with a video file. You can also provide a transcript text file that can be read separately from audio files.

Images

A screen reader can read text but it doesn’t understand images, so a screen reader reads an image’s alt tag. When creating the alt text, the text should contain the message you wish to convey through that image, and if the image includes text, that text should also be included in the alt tag.

<img src=”church.gif” alt=”Smiley face”>

A screen reader can read the text on a web page, but it doesn’t understand images. A screen reader reads an image’s alt tag.

When creating the alt tag, the text of the alt tag should contain the message you wish to convey through that image, and if the image includes text, that text should also be in the alt tag.

Headings

Your church website should be properly structured with header tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) Screen reader users can use your church web page heading structure to navigate content. By using headings correctly and strategically, the content of your website will be well-organized and easily interpreted by screen readers.

Links

Visually-impaired users can use their screen readers to scan for links. As a result, screen reader users often do not read the link within the context of the rest of the page. Using descriptive text properly explains the context of links to the screen reader user.

The most unique content of the link should be presented first, as screen reader users will often navigate the links list by searching via the first letter.

For example, if you are pointing visitors to a page called “Contact Us”:

Text

Make sure your users are able to increase or decrease the text size. So that your church website text should readable and legible on every screen size from mobile to tablet to desktop.

You should also maintain contrast between text and background colors so that people who are color blind and have other visual impairments will not have trouble reading with the text.

Navigation

For people with disabilities, it’s extremely important that sites can be navigated using only a keyboard. This means that the tab key is used to move through different sections within your church website.

You should create an efficient tab order  where the user can  logically move from the address bar to menus, across form fields and links, and to any other content areas in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. This let users who rely on keyboard navigation to move through a page in an intuitive way even if they can’t see the screen.

This is just the start of web accessibility for more in depth reading you can read

Check out these tools to test the accessibility of your church website.

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