Please Make Your Website Accessible

Creations / Blog / Please Make Your Website Accessible

Aug 12, 2023 | About 3 min reading time

There's this strange trend on Neocities/in the indie web revival community/etc. that worries me a bit. It's probably obvious from the title of this post, but if you're new to Neocities/indie web spaces and haven't seen this sentiment yet, it's essentially a strange... resistance to making websites accessible or even responsive.

Important disclaimer before I continue: I am by no means saying that every hobbyist who is just doing this for fun needs to have a fully responsive and accessible website. My website wasn't really either when I started out, and I'm sure there's still room for improvement, which is okay with me. It's okay for implementing responsiveness and accessibility to be a journey, and it's okay for a hobbyist who is just doing this for fun to decide they're not going to go out of their way to make their website super accessible or responsive. That's fine.

What I'm talking about is the fact that in this community, having an accessible website seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

And that's... strange.

I'm not going to talk about the responsive design thing, though I will link you to a great blog post by Kalechips on responsive design. Their post inspired me to write this on the accessibility side of things.

Side note: I realized while writing this post that the template I use for my blog actually has some accessibility issues itself (going straight from an h1 element to an h4 element). That's ironic.

Without further ado, let's get into it.

Why Accessibility Is So Important

I think most people don't really realize how frustrating it can be to run into an inaccessible website, let alone how it can be flat-out dangerous for those with certain disabilities. Take photosensitive seizures, for example. If you have no warning before flashing GIFs (blinkies, etc.) and no way to turn them off, your site could potentially induce a seizure for someone with photosensitive epilepsy. Even for someone like me who suffers from chronic migraines, it can be a painful experience to click onto a website with no warnings for flashing lights and suddenly have to go take painkillers and lie down in a dark room for the next hour.

This isn't the only way inaccessibility hurts those trying to use your website. Images that lack alt-text make a large part of your site inaccessible to screenreaders, ESPECIALLY if you're using images as links or buttons. If a person who can only use a keyboard to navigate your website can't tell what part of the website they're on, it's basically unusable for them.

This isn't something fixed by just straight-up saying, "If you have issues with flashing GIFs, leave this website" or anything of that variety either. That's essentially just telling disabled people they're not welcome on your website. A warning not to enter a specific page with flashing GIFs is better, but there are better ways to rectify these issues.

Possible Solutions

I don't want to make a post just ranting about inaccesibility and then not provide any solutions, so to the best of my ability, I will try to list the ones I know of.

Flashing GIFs are honestly the most simple issue to fix. Here is an informative tutorial on using JavaScript to implement a way to turn GIFs off and on. In case that doesn't work for whatever reason, I always have an article on how to turn off GIFs autoplaying in your browser linked at the top of any page that will have GIFs.

For everything else, I have links under the webmastery section on my resources page and I add more as I come across them.

Apologies for the short post, I haven't been able to concentrate enough lately to write anything very long. I still hope this is useful to someone out there.

Editing to add: thank you to Frills on Neocities for mentioning that links should have meaningful text! I'm definitely still learning about some aspects of web accessibility myself. Frills also has an accessibility masterpost that I would recommend checking out! In addition, pinkvampyr has made a blog post on accessibility as well, and is working on a project called the Accessible Net Directory that will be a directory for websites working to make the indie web more accessible, in addition to providing resources and information. I am super excited for this project and I recommend you go check out their site for any updates on that.