Shopify Accessibility: Steps to Improve Digital Compliance

Shopify Accessibility: Steps to Improve Digital Compliance

Digital compliance is typically associated with data security, privacy, and consumer information protection. But what if we took it a step further? Imagine compliance that goes beyond just protecting customer data. What if it also ensured a seamless user experience for everyone? This is where accessibility comes in.

Digital compliance can remove barriers that might prevent some users from fully interacting with Shopify websites. 

What is Shopify Accessibility?

Just like website content should be relatable to users, websites should also be accessible. This means websites on Shopify should be accessible to users with disabilities who use assistive technologies. With these tools, users with various needs can easily navigate and interact with Shopify websites. 

Why is web accessibility important for Shopify Websites?

Accessibility enables all users to interact with websites easily; it facilitates browsing, especially for people with disabilities. Accessibility offers strategic benefits for businesses that use Shopify as a platform. It focuses on clear descriptions, colour contrast, and navigation for a smoother experience. However, for a website to be fully accessible, it has to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).  

An AODA-compliant website follows Ontario, Canada’s legislation, which mandates that all website creators of public and private sector organizations make their web content accessible to people with disabilities.

Better User Experience

Accessibility incorporates high-contrast text, easy navigation, and keyboard compatibility. These benefits go beyond users with disabilities. For example, a clear and simple design with good contrast makes it easier for everyone to browse in low-light conditions. Ultimately, using accessibility features increases your potential user base.

Legal Compliance

To reinforce inclusivity, Canada has shown a great commitment to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. Below are Canada’s two main legislations for websites and web content: 

  • The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) prohibits barriers obstructing digital accessibility. It applies to the public sector, Crown Corporations, and all federally regulated organizations.
  • Canada has passed a distinct accessibility law for each province. For instance, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Ontario applies to the province’s public, private, and non-profit organizations.


Customers will interact with a website based on its awareness of social responsibility. Incorporating accessibility features demonstrates the business’s commitment to consumers of all abilities, increases brand loyalty, and spreads positive word-of-mouth.

Better rankings

Accessibility features include clear headings and proper use of HTML elements. When a website is well-structured and has clear components, it will have better rankings

Source: Shutterstock


How to Make Shopify Website Accessible?

Here are twelve essential features of digital compliance to improve the Shopify online shopping experience and ensure website accessibility:

Get Familiar with Accessibility Guidelines

Accessibility guidelines outline how to design a website that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Below are key principles that accessibility guidelines cover:

  1. Provide alternatives for non-text content (like images with alt text).
  2. Allow full keyboard navigation, avoiding reliance on hover effects.
  3. Use plain language, avoiding jargon.
  4. Make the content compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers.

Assess Your Website Accessibility

There are four aspects to approach accessibility testing: 

  1. Automated testing tools identify potential accessibility issues based on SEO guidelines. 
  2. Automated tools may fail to assess screen readers fully. Conduct manual tests to cover website accessibility comprehensively. 
  3. To verify WCAG Compliance compatibility, refer to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) website for a compliance test. 
  4. Conduct sessions with users with disabilities to identify challenges and gain valuable insight into improving accessibility.

Select an Accessible Theme

An accessible theme will help users browse your content with ease. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Keyboard Navigation: Navigation menus, links, and forms must be usable just by a keyboard.
  • Colour Contrast: Viewers should be able to distinguish between text and background. 
  • Focus Indicators:  Website users should be able to see which visual cue they are focused on when using the keyboard.

Provide Logical Structure and Navigation

To easily navigate a website, it must be well-structured with straightforward navigation. Here’s how to ensure your website offers an accessible experience for users with disabilities:

  • Standardized Design: A website should have a consistent layout across all pages. Headers, menus, search bars, and footers must be located the same on every page.
  • Menu Design: A website should have an accessible menu that is easy to understand and use. Group items similarly using concise labels without clutter.
  • Current Page Indication: A website needs to include a current page indicator on the navigation menu. This helps users understand the website’s structure.
  • Headings Structure: A website should use heading tags to structure content logically. 
  • Descriptive Link Text: A website must use descriptive text that accurately explains the link’s content.

Source: Shutterstock


Use Accessible Fonts

Accessible fonts will aid people with disabilities, elders, and those who have visual impairments. Here’s what to consider when selecting a font for a website:

  • A website should have clear letter shapes, especially the letters: “o,” “e,” “a,” and “c.”
  • A website needs to have adequate spacing between letters and words.
  • A website font should be large enough to read comfortably on different screen sizes.
  • A website should have a clear contrast between the background colour and text.

Write Alt Texts for Images

Alt text provides a written description of an image, which a screen reader reads. Here’s how to craft an image alt text for improved website accessibility:

  • Descriptions should be clear and short, ideally under 100 characters, for screen readers to read them correctly. 
  • Descriptions should focus on content, not aesthetics, and reduce the number of visual elements like colour or beauty.
  • If an image has text within it, mention it in the alt text for clarity.
  • Add an empty alt text tag (alt=” ") for decorative images to prevent screen readers from mistaking it for content. 
  • Leave alt text empty for decorative images. Decorative images for aesthetics don’t require alt text. Add an empty alt text tag (alt= “") to hide them from screen readers.

Implement Keyboard Navigation

Below are key aspects of keyboard navigation for improved accessibility. Here’s how to implement it:

  • A website should have a predictable flow that cycles through links, buttons, and form fields consecutively using the tab key.
  • Place links at the top of the page, so users can access the main content directly, bypassing repetitive menus.
  • HTML should have clear headings, allowing screen readers to identify landmarks and sections. 

Provide Captions and Transcripts for Videos

To make your videos accessible, you need to provide captions and transcripts. Closed captions are shown on screen alongside the video, while transcripts are texts explaining the audio and key visuals of the video. Here’s how to provide both effectively:

  • Create manual captions with clear font and contrast and include speaker identification; auto-generated captions are prone to errors.   
  • Include a description of visual content with the spoken dialogue to provide a comprehensive understanding. 

Use Descriptive Labels for Forms

Descriptive form labels should be concise and clear for a user-friendly website, especially for users with disabilities who rely on screen readers. Here’s how to create influential labels for video upload forms:

  • Clear labels like “Select Video to Upload” or “Choose Video for Submission.”
  • Websites should have a description of the video format and match the input type
  • Websites should have labels directly linked to corresponding input fields.

Source: Shutterstock


Pay Attention to Colour Contrast

For an accessible website design, follow these tips: 

  • Use Colour Contrast Checkers to check WCAG compliance.
  • Colour palettes should be accessible while reflecting brand identity.
  • Test website accessibility for all elements, including icons, buttons, and images with text overlays

Write Proper Meta Description and Meta Title for Your Pages

Focus on clear, concise titles that accurately reflect your page’s content. Avoid vague titles and include descriptions that reflect the page’s content and detail what each page has, its section, and its elements.

Make Sure Your Documents are Accessible

If you want to make sure every user can interact with your documents, you need to tag your document with headings, use accessible colours, and apply mindful formatting techniques. 

Creating an accessible Shopify store isn’t just about following the rules. It’s about removing barriers and empowering all users to interact with your store, regardless of their abilities.

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