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25.01.2022 | News Accessible search requires these seven features

Accessible websites and search functions are already mandatory for public authorities - private companies should therefore follow suit as soon as possible. But many operators don't even know exactly how they can help people with impairments. Enterprise search specialist IntraFind has identified seven functions that an accessible search must offer.

Digitization threatens to leave part of the population behind. Despite existing possibilities, many applications and pages on the Internet are hardly usable for people with disabilities. Operators particularly often fail to implement an accessible search. IntraFind, specialist for enterprise search and artificial intelligence, explains which seven features are absolutely necessary for such a search function.

1. Optimization of the keyboard control

Controlling the search function via the keyboard is essential for accessibility. Blind or visually impaired users, as well as users with limited movement, can only use the mouse to a limited extent to operate the search function. A good keyboard control supports navigating to the individual elements of the search function via the tab key on the keyboard. It is even better if users can additionally operate the search with Enter, arrow and space keys.

2. Screen reader support

Screen readers - i.e., speech output that acoustically conveys the content of the screen to the user - help with navigation and the communication of content. In order for these read-aloud aids to function correctly, interface components such as the search field must, among other things, contain texts that are valid only for the screen reader and explain the purpose of the component to the user.

3. Logical software structure

Accessible search software must be logical and hierarchical - from operation to the presentation of search results and their content. Unstructured search results or chaotic operation can make searching more difficult for users or lead to a loss of information when using screen readers.

4. AI-based voice control

Just as important as optimal keyboard control is the option for control via voice command. Users can simply say what they want to search for. This eliminates the sometimes tedious navigation to the search field and the manual input of the search term. All the better when the voice input and the intelligent interpretation of the search query behind it work in multiple languages.

5. Visible keyboard focus

The keyboard focus marks the control or input element that the user has selected via the keyboard. A visible keyboard focus, for example through highlighting, is very helpful for intuitive navigation: the user does not lose the overview and can find the right elements more easily and operate them via the keyboard.

6. High contrast

High contrast helps enormously with the readability of content on a web page or within an application. Especially for people who do not see well, a higher contrast can make a significant difference. But it is also more comfortable for healthy eyes and improves the viewing experience.

7. Color-neutral information transfer

There are many people who have difficulty perceiving colors correctly. Therefore, the color scheme should not be an indicator of the quality of a hit or a link should not be marked only by means of a certain color. 

"Our iFinder software offers the above-mentioned features for searching websites and within enterprise search applications," says Franz Kögl, CEO of IntraFind. "In this way, we support public authorities and companies in making digital information retrieval as convenient as possible for people with an impairment."

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