Make a POUR website. (It’s a good thing.)

To make your website more accessible, make sure it’s POUR. POUR is a handy acronym for:

P: Perceivable

O: Operable

U: Understandable

R: Robust

These are the testing pillars for content providers. What do we mean by that? Let’s look into each word.

Perceivable

Users must be able to perceive your content, and they do this through sight, hearing, and touch. If your content can’t be processed by the user, then it isn’t accessible. So, how do you ensure your information is perceivable?

First off, remember to not let any background sounds or visual elements get in the way of your content. Limit the amount of distractions on the site. If there is too much going on with any given page, users’ brains might get overwhelmed and become unable to process the information.

Two important components to keep in mind are color contrast and alternative text. The High Contract Chrome App can be installed on a user’s computer to invert colors and convert the display to grayscale. Test your website to make sure that when you change these color schemes, users can still access the important information on your site.

Additionally, images should have alternative text so that if users cannot see, they can use assistive devices called screen readers to read aloud descriptions of the images. ChromeVox for Chrome and Mac OS VoiceOver are two great tools to check out for that kind of testing.

Operable

Users must be able to navigate your website. Since not all users can control a computer mouse to navigate a website, keyboard accessibility is important. Check to make sure you can move around the screen using the Tab key, space bar, arrow keys, and the Enter key. A focus indicator, such as a box that highlights each tab or other element of the website, should be visible so users who can see are aware of where they are on the page. A screen reader should also be able to read aloud these elements for navigation.

Understandable

Users need to understand the meaning of your content. Sometimes, users need more than words or images to grasp your meaning; they might need both, as well as videos and other representations of your content.

Users also need easy navigation that’s consistent and predictable throughout the site. Context should not change unexpectedly; otherwise, things will get confusing, and quickly. Buttons and links shouldn’t have ambiguous labels like “Click here.” Try to provide as much context as possible so users understand what action they’re performing each time they select a button or choose a tab.

Robust

Different users are going to access your website in different ways. There are several technologies, browsers, and devices out there, so your content needs to be compatible with as many of them as possible.

Be aware of HTML and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) specification, and test out your site using different browsers and devices. Know which technologies are at work in the resource you’re testing. Become familiar with the standards that are used when creating content. This testing will help ensure you’re using well-structured code so that many users can access your content.

For more information, visit WebAIM’s website, a terrific resource for learning how to build a POUR website: http://webaim.org/articles/pour/perceivable.

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