Chances are most of the people visiting your ophthalmology practice website don’t have perfect vision. They might be researching symptoms of cataracts, or they might be interested in setting up an appointment for LASIK. Maybe they have AMD, or maybe they have a vision disability they haven’t yet identified.
Can these patients read your website?
The National Eye Institute estimates that 1 million Americans are legally blind (20/200 vision or worse), 3.2 million Americans have visual impairment (20/40 or worse with best possible correction), and that 8.2 million have vision problems due to uncorrected refractive error.
If you want to reach as many patients as possible, you’ll need to make sure your practice website is accessible to people with low vision.
Here are five ways to boost low vision accessibility in your website.
1. Use relative font sizes
People with low vision often need to expand font size to read websites. Sites that use relative font sizes (i.e., percentages or ems) rather than absolute font sizes (i.e., pixels or points) provide users with some flexibility, making it easier for them to adjust the size of the font.
2. Make sure your link text is specific
If you’re using a screen reader, there’s nothing less helpful than the words “click here.” Screen readers enable people to skip from link to link, allowing people with low vision to receive a quick overview of the website. Make sure your links provide an accurate view of the content that follows.
3. Use alt tags for your images
All the images used on your website should have descriptive text, including images that are part of your template. This makes it possible for people with screen readers to understand images even if they can’t see them.
4. Put your navigation bar on the right side of the screen
Most screen readers start at the top of the page and read from left to right. When someone with a screen reader encounters a webpage with a left-hand navigation bar, they’re forced to listen to the same list of links over and over. Make it easier on them and move it to the right!
5. Don’t force links to open in new windows
When someone is using a screen reader to navigate your webpage, links that automatically open a new window can make for a seriously disorienting experience. Keep it simple, and make sure your links open in the same window.
If you’d like to learn more about making your website accessible, check out the accessibility guidelines published by the Web Access Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium. We also recommend checking out WAVE, a free online resource that generates an overview of potential accessibility issues on your webpage.