Three ways to make your online content accessible

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Date: 1 December 2021

A male wheelchair user in the office

Online accessibility is now more important than ever. Over recent years, social media platforms and websites in general have been scrutinised for their lack of accessibility.

Whether it's missing image alt text or the lack of or accuracy of closed captions on video content, online content providers have a shared responsibility to make themselves more accessible.

Not only is it helpful to those who need it, it helps cater to those audiences who may not otherwise be able to interact or convert to customers.

In this guide, we'll explain why accessibility is important and what that looks like online. There will also be some helpful tips on how to make your content accessible when creating it for online viewing.

A breakdown on accessibility for online users

Disappointingly, 98% of the world's top one million websites don't offer full accessibility. Some of the most influential worldwide websites are not accessible to all visitors.

That means less than 2% of the world's top websites are catering for those with disabilities. However, it's not just about the potential for additional revenue but it's about providing a more universal experience that every one of your customers or potential leads can enjoy.

Whether it's an app or website, it's important for businesses to consider their whole audience and to remember that not everyone will be without some sort of disability.

Catering to all visitors will boost customer experience in general but it will also do wonders for your reputation as a business too. Did you know that 71% of website visitors with disabilities will leave a website that isn't accessible. That's a major drop-off rate and something that doesn't bode well for your rankings on search engines.

Why is accessibility important?

The pandemic changed working environments for many people across the world and this meant adapting to remote working. With more people online than ever before, the digital world has become essential for any and alternatives to accessibility aren't as avoidable as they once were.

Online accessibility is an essential these days, yet many businesses and online resources haven't optimised their content.

Is there an excuse? No, not really. Making your content accessible is easy enough to achieve, especially with the tools and software we now have available. For example, Happy Scribe's AI subtitling services can automatically or manually add them to your video content.

All you need to do, is pay the small fee for these services. It's a small price to pay for businesses of any size to provide for those audiences who might otherwise struggle to access your content.

When you've got the tools to make your content accessible, it's important to take the lead so that others follow suit. The internet is a shared space with no sole owner. This means we all have a duty to make it a space that everyone can engage with fully.

Three ways to make your content accessible

Improving your content to make it more accessible has many benefits for both you and your audience. So, how can you make your content accessible?

1. Make improvements across your whole site.

Your website has many elements that all contribute to the overall customer experience. For someone looking for accessible sites, it's good to improve every digital inch of your website.

There's a lot of content on your website and therefore plenty that you do to make it more accessible. There are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which is a good place to start when considering what's needed in order to cater to your disabled users.

A few of the suggestions we would recommend you make to your website include the following.

  • Low-contrast text, font and sizing - The text you use is a critical part of making your content more accessible. For example, low-contrast text can be very difficult for some people to read. To solve this, increase the contrast between your text and web page background.
  • Embolden your text - It's a good way to enhance text against your webpage's background colour. You should also check that your colour scheme doesn't clash and cause low-contrast elsewhere. Consider the typeface you use. Make sure it's easy to read and that the sizing isn't too small.
  • Alt-text on images - Alt-text is the description placed on your images so that those with computer screen readers can have the content described to them. For those with limited vision or blindness, this is crucial for them to get a clear picture of what they're engaging with. The more descriptive your Alt-text is the better. This should be easy to do as content management systems like WordPress, have this feature built it.
  • Design forms for accessibility - Many websites have forms, be it a contact form or a form to subscribe to a newsletter. These forms should be accessible to everyone. There are a number of ways to do this. Support keyboard navigation and, where possible, use focus styling so that users know what they're clicking on or hovering over. You can also code a programmatic label for screen readers and provide instructions for screen readers using ARIA labels.

2. Add captions and voiceover options to your videos.

Captions and voice overs are a great way to add accessibility to your video content. If you're looking at how to add voice over to video, then it's worth making use of the tools that are available like Murf AI.

Captions provide those that are hard of hearing or deaf with a description that helps them understand what's happening in the video content. Without accurate captions, individuals can become confused. Voiceovers help those with visual-impairment to understand what's happening in the video.

3. Transcribe your content where possible.

If you have audio content, transcribing it into text will make the content more accessible. This can be great for those who need a visual cue to what's being said when the video contains no voiceover or captions. This can happen when neither feature are available for the content.

Again, a transcribing service is affordable and is not difficult to implement.

There are other changes that you can make including cleaning up your page structure to using camel case on your hashtags so that it's easy to reade for everyone.

Tools for making accessible content

We've already mentioned a few tools that can make your content more accessible. Here are a few additional options that can further improve your online content.

AccessiBe

AccessiBe is a popular platform and tool. It utilises two applications in order to achieve compliance across online content. The accessibility interface helps with UI and design-related issues and the AI-powered background process handles more complex tasks to optimise the content.

Google Lighthouse

Mobile compatibility is essential these days as most people use mobile devices to browse the web. With that in mind, Google Lighthouse can be a very useful tool for checking your website's compliance and whether changes are required. It's important to test across both iOS and Android devices, as both types of device are used equally.

Accessibility Checklist

Provided through Elsevier, the Accessibility Checklist is a great tool that can help you keep track of what you're providing when it comes to accessibility. A checklist is a good way of staying on track and helping you remember everything that needs tweaking and changing.

Prioritise accessibility for your content creation

Every content creator that improves their accessibility, contributes to the gradual accessibility of the web for all users. The internet is always growing and developing. It's important that content creators develop and adapt to the needs of their audience, regardless of their ability to navigate the web.

Copyright 2021. Article made possible by SKALE.

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