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May 8, 2024 - 6 minutes

Art Website Accessibility In The Digital Age

Learn about the technological solutions and approaches that make an art website accessible.

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Art is a key component of our culture and has the power to inspire, challenge, and provoke. Still, many people living with disabilities cannot access art due to physical and social barriers. The good news is that the digital age has enabled people with disabilities to access art online. This makes it important that all digital platforms meet web accessibility guidelines. 

Let’s discuss the importance of digital accessibility for art websites and technological solutions and approaches to make an art website accessible.

What Is an Accessible Website?

An accessible website can be used by people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive abilities. Accessibility means that the website is designed to allow people with disabilities to interact with it and access its content. An accessible website is not only important for users living with a disability, but also for anyone who might have a temporary disability, such as a broken arm, or those who use assistive technology

Accessibility is also important for organizations that want to build quality websites that do not exclude people from engaging with their platform. 

What Is Digital Accessibility for an Art Website?

Digital accessibility for an art website refers to the website's accessibility to people with disabilities. This includes ensuring that the website is compatible with assistive technology, such as screen readers, and that it is easy to navigate using a keyboard. It also means ensuring the website's content is accessible, including images, videos, and text.

Why Is Digital Accessibility Necessary for an Art Website?

Digital accessibility is essential for any website, including art websites. It allows people with disabilities to access and enjoy its content. People with disabilities, whether physical or cognitive, often face significant barriers to accessing art in person. It could be due to inaccessible venues, lack of transportation, or financial constraints. Therefore, the internet and digital technology have provided a means for disabled individuals to experience and appreciate art from the comfort of their own homes.

Without digital accessibility, art websites risk excluding disabled individuals from accessing their content. For instance, people with visual impairments may struggle to navigate an art website with poor color contrast or a confusing layout. Similarly, individuals with hearing impairments may be unable to access the audio descriptions of artwork or videos on the website. Those with motor impairments may have difficulty navigating the site without using assistive technology.

By optimizing art websites for digital accessibility, artists and website designers can ensure art accessibility to everyone, regardless of their abilities. This inclusivity not only provides a more comprehensive experience for disabled individuals but also promotes diversity within the art community. By valuing the experiences of all individuals, the art world can enrich and broaden its perspectives and create more meaningful and impactful connections between artists and audiences.

How to Optimize Art Website for Disabled Users

There are many ways to ensure art accessibility. Here is how to make an art website accessible:

Assess your platform accessibility 

One of the easiest ways to check art website accessibility is to do a website audit for accessibility. This will help you find accessibility issues and barriers. You will also get suggestions on how to fix these issues and provide equal access to cultural resources. 

Add images with alt text

Adding alternative text to images is essential for people who use screen readers. Alternative text, also known as alt text, is a brief description of the image that is read aloud by screen readers and displays when images are not available. Alt text provides context for the image and ensures everyone understands the content.

Here are some tips for alt texts on art websites: 

  • Keep it concise 

  • Write the most important information at the beginning of the text

  • Write in neutral language

  • Avoid writing “image of,” “picture of,” or “graphic of”.

Use descriptive URLs

Descriptive URLs are essential for people who use screen readers or have cognitive disabilities. These URLs provide users with the proper context about where clicking the link will take them.  Descriptive URLs make it easier for people to navigate art websites.

Use keyboard navigation

Keyboard navigation is important for people with limited mobility or who cannot use a mouse. It allows users to navigate the website using only the keyboard, making it easier for everyone to access the content. Keyboard navigation is required in order to provide an accessible art website.

Minimize the use of tables

Tables can be difficult to navigate for people who use screen readers. Whenever possible, minimize the use of tables and using headings and lists instead can make it an accessible art website.

Allow users to enlarge font sizes

Allowing users to enlarge the font size makes the website more accessible to visually impaired people. It is essential to ensure that the website remains readable and usable in larger font sizes.

Use heading hierarchies

Using heading hierarchies, such as H1, H2, and H3, makes the website more accessible to people who use screen readers. Headings provide structure and context for the content and make it easier to navigate.

Use high-contrast colors

Using high-contrast colors can make the website more accessible to visually impaired people. It is important to ensure that the website's colors meet accessibility standards and provide sufficient contrast. The visual presentation of text must have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1. Large-scale text must have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1. 

Add transcripts to videos

Adding transcripts to videos is important for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Transcripts provide a written version of the audio content and ensure everyone can access the information.

Technology makes it possible to remove physical and communication barriers and ensure art accessibility. Organizations have different tools to provide inclusive experiences for people with diverse abilities and backgrounds. 

Arts organizations must take responsibility for making their websites accessible. They need a long-term plan to provide digital inclusion. It is important to be practical and focused on maximizing impact. 

Do you want to transform the way people with disabilities interact with art website content? Determined to become a UX/UI designer?  Find out UX/UI Design Bootcamp here at Ironhack. 

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