Breaking down accessibility barriers within the Chrome browser
Digital bridges to accessibility
The internet has become an essential part of our lives. It has intertwined itself into almost every aspect of our ordinary routines, from shopping and entertainment to work and education, for fun or business travel, as well as accessing government services. We use it to stay connected with friends and family near and far. Now, imagine facing barriers to participation every time you try to access a website. For millions with disabilities, this is a daily reality and a serious block. For both businesses and end users, digital accessibility is more than a best practice— it’s a bridge to a world of opportunities.
That’s where digital accessibility comes in. Digital accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites and digital products so that they can be used by everyone, regardless of disability.
There are many benefits to making your website accessible. For one, it can help you attract more users. According to a study by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability. That means that by making your website accessible, you could be reaching out to millions of potential new users.
In addition, making your website accessible can help you avoid legal liability. In the United States, for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. If your website is not accessible, you could be sued for violating the ADA.
Finally, making your website accessible is simply the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to have equal access to the internet, regardless of their level of ability.
Improving Accessibility in Chrome
Is Chrome Making Things Easier for Everyone?
Chrome, Google’s popular web browser, understands the importance of an accessible web. It comes packed with built-in accessibility features designed to make the browsing experience smoother for everyone. You can use these tools to make your website more available and inclusive for people with disabilities. Below you’ll find some of the most popular options.
How to Fine-tune Accessibility in Chrome
To adjust options for the Chrome accessibility tools listed below:
First, open the Chrome menu and select “Settings.” Then, in Chrome, click on the “Accessibility” tab.
After that, check the table right below this paragraph for instructions on how to set or adjust tool options.
|What’s the Built-In Chrome Tool?||What Does it Do?||How Do I Set Tool Options?|
|Zoom controls||Site visitors can zoom in or out on a page, making content easier to read by offering better visibility of text and images.||Set the zoom level for the entire page, or for individual elements on the page.|
|Text-to-speech||This tool reads the text on the page aloud, so people who are blind or visually impaired can use your website.||Select a voice for the text-to-speech engine. You can also adjust the voice’s speed and pitch.|
|Screen reader compatibility||Chrome is designed to be compatible with screen readers, which are software programs that read the text on a computer screen aloud.||Enable or disable screen reader compatibility mode.|
|High contrast mode||By changing the combination of colors used on the site, this mode makes the text and images on the page easier to see for people with low vision.||Enable or disable high contrast mode.|
|Keyboard navigation||People with mobility and other impairments who might find it hard to use a mouse may need to navigate your website using only the keyboard; this Chrome tool makes it possible.||Enable or disable keyboard navigation mode.|
Moving Beyond Chrome-Native Accessibility with Third-Party Tools
Which Tools, Extensions, and Add-Ons Can Upgrade Accessibility in Chrome?
There are quite a few third-party tools and add-ons that are either compatible with or actually designed for Chrome that can be used to improve accessibility, including:
- NVDA Chrome Extension: This adds a number of accessibility features to Chrome, including screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and zoom.
- AChecker Chrome Extension: This helps you identify and fix accessibility errors on your website.
- WAVE Chrome Extension: This also helps you identify and fix accessibility errors on your website.
- Colorblind Assist Chrome Extension: This helps people with colorblindness see the colors on your website more easily.
- ChromeVox: A Google Chrome accessibility screen reader, especially helpful for visually impaired users.
- Magnifier Plus Chrome Extension: This provides a magnified view of the page, making it easier to see text and images.
- WCAG Chrome Extension: Based on the WCAG (official W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), this extension helps developers ensure that their content meets established criteria.
These are just a few examples of the numerous third-party Chrome accessibility tools and add-ons that are currently available; new tools are added all the time.
Why is it Important to Provide Accessibility for Google Chrome End Users?
How Popular is Chrome Among Users?
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, with over 65% of the market share: recent statistics show that a significant portion of global users favor Google Chrome as their primary or only browser. With such extensive usage, businesses simply cannot afford to ignore the accessibility needs of Chrome users. By making your website accessible to Chrome users, you are immediately making it accessible to a majority of the world’s population.
In addition, Google Chrome is constantly being updated with new accessibility features. This means that by ensuring your website is compatible with Chrome, you are also making sure that it will remain accessible to users as Chrome continues to evolve.
Google Chrome Accessibility is Vital for Businesses
A seamless browsing experience on Chrome translates to a wider reach, improved customer satisfaction, and better brand reputation. In short, businesses that prioritize Google Chrome accessibility ensure they don’t miss out on a vast segment of potential customers.
As a bonus, making your website accessible to Chrome users can help you improve your search engine ranking. Google has clearly stated that it takes accessibility into account when ranking websites in search results. Improving your website’s accessibility boosts your chances of being found by people who are searching for the information that you offer.
Test Before You Launch: Website Accessibility Tools
Are You Meeting Everyone’s Needs?
Making sure your website is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities, is crucial. There are a number of tools that can help you test your website for accessibility. Some of the tools below can be considered plug-ins, some are extensions, and some are overlays. The main difference between plug-ins, extensions, and overlays is how they interact with the browser and with your website.
While plug-ins and extensions may sound more familiar, you’re probably also already using overlays. Briefly, overlay tools can be used to improve the accessibility of your website without making any changes to the underlying code. Usually, the layer of code they add to your website helps make it compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies. In some cases, fixes or even additional tools can be added in the overlay itself. Whichever tool type you use, be careful that you don’t run into problems by using too many tools at once, as they can have poor interactions when they’re stacked.
Here are some examples of accessibility testing and fixing tools that fall into the categories we just described:
WAVE: This free online accessibility evaluation tool is a great option for basic testing. It can identify common accessibility errors, such as missing alt text for images and inaccessible links. And, it provides visual feedback on your website’s accessibility levels.
Taylr: This paid online tool offers a more comprehensive assessment of your website’s accessibility. It can identify a wider range of errors, and it also provides recommendations for how to fix them.
SiteImprove: This tool not only checks for accessibility issues, it also offers solutions.
AccessiBe: This paid service can be used to make your website accessible automatically. It works by adding a layer of code to your website that makes it compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
Axe DevTools: This free Chrome extension is a great option for developers who want to test the accessibility of their websites. It provides real-time feedback on accessibility errors, as well as recommendations for how to fix them.
UserWay Widget: This tool has free and premium paid versions. It adds a layer of code to your site, letting admins and end users select accessibility features.
EqualWeb: This free tool can be used to make your website accessible to people with disabilities. It works by adding a layer of code to your website that makes it compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
Tenon.io: Another tester for web accessibility, this tool offers detailed reports and insights to help you rectify issues.
By using these tools and others, you can examine your website and make any necessary changes to make sure it is accessible to everyone.
Making Your Website Shine for Everyone
How Can You Ensure Your Website is Truly Inclusive?
Take a look at three guidelines to consider, and remember: maximize accessibility as early on in the process as you can, and then keep improving.
|Best Accessibility Practices in Web Design||Best Accessibility Practices in Development||Explore Your CMS Options|
|Begin with a design that’s inclusive. Use color combinations that are easy to differentiate, check that all fonts are clearly readable, and maintain a logical content flow.||Use semantic HTML, ensure keyboard navigation, and provide alternative text for images.||Various content management systems (CMS) offer accessibility overlays and plugins. It’s worth checking what your CMS offers in terms of enhancing accessibility for users.|
Tying it All Together
How Can You Ensure Your Website is Truly Inclusive?
In today’s digital age, providing equal web accessibility is not just a thoughtful gesture— it’s a necessity. With tools like Chrome’s native features and various third-party extensions, the road to an accessible web is clearer than ever.
By using tools available either natively in Chrome, or third-party tools, and by utilizing and promoting best practices, you may find that your improved accessibility can:
- Help you attract more users
- Help you better serve current users, with or without disabilities
- Help you avoid legal liability in the most legitimate way
- Help you do the right thing
Whether you’re a business looking to expand its audience or a developer striving to create inclusive web content, the tools and practices are out there. It’s up to us to utilize them and bridge the digital divide. Remember, an accessible web is a better web for everyone.