Accessibility is an important topic for municipal websites. Just as all public buildings need to be ADA compliant to meet the needs of all residents, municipal websites must take the extra steps of ensuring that all residents have equal access to the website’s information. GovUnity focuses on website accessibility and has compiled the following list of the most prevalent mistakes we see municipal websites committing.

#1: Insufficient Keyboard Accessibility – By default, most browsers have a highlight or dotted line around a content element that has keyboard focus on it by using the tab key. Unfortunately, for aesthetic purposes, many developers disable this feature. This functionality is used by users with motor disabilities and those who rely on screen magnifiers.

#2: Ambiguous Link Text – Individuals with vision disabilities often use screen readers to navigate a website. These screen readers will read page links to help the user determine which link they want to click next. Meaningless link titles such as “page 1”, “click here”, or “read more” do not provide the user with enough detail to determine whether or not those pages contain information they are looking for.

#3: Unusable Resized Text – Users with vision disabilities often increase the size of the font on the screen to make it more legible. Unfortunately, many sites are coded such that when fonts are increased, text is lost off the screen or overlaps other content, making it impossible to read. Text on all pages should be designed to resize without conflicting other areas of the site.

#4: Inadequate Color Contrast – Having a low contrast between font colors and background colors can be an issue for people with color blindness, low vision, and people who lose color sensitivity from reading disabilities or again. The current requirements are a contrast ratio of 4.5 to 1 for normal text and 3 to 1 for large text (14 points or higher).

#5: Images Missing Alternative Text Tags – An image text tag, also known as an alt text, is a description of the image that can be added next to the image. This text is crucial for people that have vision disabilities and rely on screen readers, because most screen readers are unable to decipher text that is in an image. This problem is prevalent with online flyers for events.

#6: Lack of Captions on Videos – Hearing deficient individuals require captioning and transcripts to access information on videos. With many municipalities videotaping or live streaming meetings, these captions and transcripts are a must for the content of the meetings to be accessible

#7: Form Time Outs – For security purposes, online forms often have a time-out feature. Completing forms is a much more time-consuming process for users navigating by keyboard or those using screen readers. Completion of a form within the specified time period might be impossible using these methods, even if it is during a continuous session.