Website accessibility help

Website accessibility help

Accessibility benefits people with and without disabilities.

Features that support accessibility  

Features that support accessibility are becoming increasingly available in standard computer hardware, mobile devices, operating systems, web browsers, and other tools. Better Web Browsing: Tips for Customizing Your Computer provides information about customizing your computer to take advantage of such accessibility features and solutions. We have adapted this useful information from W3C Web Accessibility initiative below to help you.

Listening Rather than Reading

There are several tools that will read aloud the text on websites for you, some of which may already be installed on your computer. Talking browsers (sometimes also called "voice browsers") are web browsers that read aloud the text on websites. Screen readers and some screen magnifiers are specialized software that read aloud any text on the screen, including that in your web browser. Screen readers and magnifiers often provide a variety of functions such as summarizing the contents of web pages, highlighting the text being spoken, or providing the text on a refreshable braille display. Setting up and learning how to use such tools effectively may need initial guidance and training. Vendors of such tools usually provide detailed documentation for the customization options and may sometimes provide training and support directly or through third parties.

For additional information on screen reader usage read report from WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey #9 Results.

Free Screen Reader Software

There are free applications to read the content displayed on your computer. 

NonVisual Desktop Access [NVDA] - A free and open-source screen reader which uses a synthetic voice that reads whatever the cursor hovers over, and can be used directly from a USB stick, making it ideal for students. Available for PCs running Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and later. NVDA works best with Firefox NVDA download link

Narrator - Narrator is a screen-reading app that is built into Windows 11. Narrator guide describes how to use Narrator with Windows. so that you can start using apps, browsing the web, and more. 

Apple VoiceOver - Apple VoiceOver includes options to magnify, keyboard control and verbal descriptions in English to describe what is happening on screen. It also reads aloud file content as well as web pages, E-mail messages and word processing files whilst providing a relatively accurate narrative of the user’s workspace. Make Apple Yours

Related Resources:

Text to speech functions in web browsers:

Screen reader tools in operating systems:

Optimize Your Computer Setup

Customizations are easily reversible and do not delete files or otherwise disrupt the functionality of your computer. Customization options and accessibility features are usually documented in the "help" menu of your software. Look for customization options in menu items such as "options", "preferences", "settings", and "accessibility". Experiment with changing some settings you find to see if the changes improve your web experience. Exploring and getting to know your computer are the first steps to an accessible and enjoyable web browsing experience.

In some cases, it may be necessary to download and install a web browser or media player that works better for you. In other cases, it may be necessary to obtain and install additional software, including browser-based tools (sometimes called "add-on" or "extension"), or hardware devices. Some of these steps, such as installing a new web browser or browser-based tools, do not require technical expertise or skills. However, finding the optimal setup for you will improve your efficiency.

Note: Several public institutions such as libraries and schools, user organizations such as those for people with disabilities or older people, and assistive technology vendors, provide computer training courses.

Related Resources:

Guides about customizing your computer:

Accessibility features of web browsers:

Accessibility features of operating systems:

Difficulty Seeing and Reading Websites?

Before changing the settings on your computer, make sure the screen and screen settings are optimal for you. Some screens will allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, and other settings that effect the display. Also, make sure that the room lighting and your position in front of the screen are optimal for you.

Enlarging Text and Images

In Your Web Browser:

Most web browsers will allow you to simply enlarge and reduce text and image sizes through the options in the menu bar, or by pressing "Ctrl +" and "Ctrl -" or other keyboard combinations. However, these changes are often temporary and may be lost when you open a new browser window or the next time you start your web browser. To make text and images appear larger by default in your web browser, you need to modify the settings of the web browser.

Related Resources:

In Your Operating System:

You can also change the default display settings in the operating system of your computer, which will apply to all your applications, rather than changing only the settings of your web browser. You can increase the default font-size which will make the text, but not the images, appear larger in all your applications. Alternatively, you can decrease the resolution of your display which will make all content appear larger but reduce the quality of the text and images. Increasing the "dots per inch - DPI" value has a similar effect on enlarging the text and images without losing quality. However, this feature is not supported by all operating systems and computer screens, so that it may not be available to you.

Related Resources:

Using Additional Tools:

There are screen magnifiers, some of which are built directly into the operating system of your computer. These software tools enlarge the text and images and can sometimes be set to read the text and the menus out loud. Vendors of such software usually provide detailed documentation on customization options and may sometimes provide training and support directly or through third parties.

Related Resources:

Screen magnification tools in operating systems:


Changing Colours and Fonts

In Your Web Browser:

You can change the default colours for text, background, or links, and change the default font styles to make the content easier for you to distinguish and read. Several web browsers provide simple options for defining such colour and font schemes, including options to reuse the colour schemes of the operating system in case you already defined custom settings. Some web browsers also provide high colour contrast schemes or allow you to override the presentation style of the website using custom "style sheets". While this is approach is quite powerful, it is not easy to set up and may require guidance or assistance by someone with technical skills.

Related Resources:

In Your Operating System:

You can change the default colour and font schemes in the operating system of your computer, which will apply to all your applications rather than to your web browser alone. You can set your web browser to reuse these colour and font schemes or define different schemes for the Web, for instance to better highlight links. Some operating systems provide a selection of desktop schemes, including schemes with higher colour contrast.

Related Resources: