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Everyone navigates websites in different ways. Physical challenges, even personal preferences, affect the way in which someone traverses a site. Taking the steps to make sure that your site is accessible for screen readers, alternative pointers, and other assistive devices enables a larger set of people to access and use your site. 

Accessible navigation is not just something that is nice to have, it is a legal requirement for governments as well as all organizations that are required to comply with Title II or III of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Fortunately, ensuring that your navigation is WCAG 2.0 AA compliant is easier than you think, especially if it is set up from the get-go. With a little training, your team can continue to maintain these standards as they add or change features. 

One of the first things to do is understand how people navigate your website so you can provide alternate options for screen readers and other assistive devices. Let’s dive into that in more depth.  

Understand How People Navigate Your Website

Navigation – hamburgers, fly-outs, mega menus, footer menus, sidebar menus, breadcrumbs, and others – matters for usability. So, the amount of time spent on menus and navigation structures should be reflective of their impact on the overall user experience.  

Most of us spend enormous amounts of time online and we tend to have a pretty good handle on how sighted people navigate – there's a general flow to how eyes move (depending on a language’s directionality) and certain things catch our attention due to size or placement. However, assistive technology users navigate in completely different ways. 

Screen readers offer several ways to navigate a page.

An afternoon learning to navigate by screen reader can be a real brain twister; it’s nothing at all like visual navigation.

A big hero image is going to feel a lot like a smaller inline image to someone using a screen reader, but the order, nesting, and text content of heading tags may catch their ear as they zip through the page

The most familiar non-mouse navigation method to sighted users is the simple focusable-item to focusable-item tab behavior using a keyboard. However, readers can also navigate from heading tag to heading tag, by line, by paragraph, or even by letter. Several assistive tools also navigate by landmark. Landmarks are tags like


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