Does your company’s marketing strategy maximize your content’s reach across your target market? If your content operations and governance teams are lax on web content accessibility issues, you might be neglecting a key demographic in your niche – people with disabilities.
Content accessibility best practices, as Usability.gov points out, focus on how well people with disabilities can access your company’s web content and apps. Making your content accessible involves making information available over multi-sensory channels, such as sight, sound, and even haptics (tactile responses) on mobile applications.
To be fully accessible, though, your web content must provide alternative ways for people with disabilities to interact with your site other than point-and-click and voice-based navigation. Here are some tips on making your content fully accessible to people with disabilities and other barriers to comprehension.
Make Sure Your Content Management System and Theme Supports Accessibility
We know it’s a hassle to switch your content management system (CMS), but it’s well worth your time to have a system built with accessibility in mind. WordPress and Joomla are two popular CMS choices that support accessibility and are easy to use for most content teams.
Once you have your accessibility-supported CMS in place, it’s essential that you choose an accessible theme or template. Be sure to double-check the documentation for the theme to make sure it’s accessible.
Follow the theme creators’ guidelines when you choose plugins, widgets, or plugins, as the web access team at the University of California, Berkeley advises. Similarly, make sure that video players, editing toolbars, and CMS administration options are also accessible.
Check Your Current Content for Accessibility
While you can use a variety of tools to check your content’s accessibility, one of the best, say accessibility experts Balázs Csontos and István Heckl, is the WAVE online accessibility evaluation tool. Its versatility and convenience make it a user-friendly choice for content teams and developers alike.
Although it can only check one page at a time, WAVE provides your teams with the ability to check your content against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 requirements on your website itself as well as in the source code.
WAVE plugins are available for most of the popular browsers, so your content operations and governance teams don’t have to involve your development teams to do a thorough check.
Optimize New Website Content for Accessibility
While going through previous content to revise it for accessibility, make sure that your content and web design teams use accessibility best practices on all new content they create.
Organize Your Content Structure with Headings
People with visual impairments often use screen readers to navigate through your content. Organizing your content with headers and sub-headers correctly can help screen readers guide users through your text in the proper order.
Use H1 headings only for a webpage’s main title. Then, as you organize the rest of your content in subheadings, be sure not to skip levels, like using H3 headings instead of H2 headings for your main subheadings. Save the H3s for sub-subheadings instead.
Use Alt Text to Describe On-Page Images
Since visually impaired people have difficulty seeing images, alt text can help their screen reader describe the image or, in the case of an infographic or graph, convey the information the visual asset provides.
If the image contains text, the alt text should include it, too. Additionally, if you use the image as a link, provide alt text so that the screen reader will convey actual information about the link, not just the file name.
Use Descriptive Anchor Text and Call-to-Action Links
Like sighted users’ eyes, screen reading tools allow visually impaired people to scan links. Use anchor text that describes where the link will take you.
For example, at the beginning of this post, we talked about haptics – tactile signals on mobile devices. The anchor text we used, “tactile responses,” indicated that the link would take the user to more information about haptics.
Similarly, at the end of our blog posts, we don’t use “Click here” as the anchor text to invite people to try out our content marketing platform free for 14 days (By the way, our free trial is really a great way to see if it streamlines your content production without any obligation).
Instead, we use something like “Start your free trial today” with “Start your free trial” as the anchor text. That way, people with visual impairments, too, can come aboard the DivvyHQ train. Do the same for your anchor text links, and you’ll likely have more conversions from both sighted and visually impaired people.
Make Your Downloadable Assets Accessible
If you’re like most larger companies, you offer ebooks, white papers, case studies, or other valuable resources that prospects can download. As the University of Washington’s Access Computing advises, ensure those assets arrive in an accessible format.
Using tagged PDFs is helpful, since they support alt text for images and headings for on-page headings and subheadings. Double-check the document for accessibility with Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Accessibility Checker.
Additionally, if preserving your document’s appearance across devices and operating systems isn’t a high priority, consider providing your prospects with an HTML document as an alternative.
Make Videos More Accessible with Closed Captioning, Audio Descriptions, and Transcripts
Closed captions do more than give hearing-impaired viewers a word-for-word rendition of a video’s spoken dialogue and action. They’re also helpful for people with learning issues or those whose native language differs from your own to digest the meaning behind what’s happening on screen.
Secondly, if your company operates in countries whose native languages differ from yours, consider giving your audience the choice of closed captioning in their language as well. Otherwise, they might miss the nuances that only native speakers could comprehend.
To provide the visually impaired people in your audience with a better experience, consider an audio description that describes the visual aspects of the scene. While dialogue and narration are important, your audience will miss key aspects of your videos without an audio description of the action.
Transcripts, too, can reinforce the information you provide in your video. For people who have difficulty retaining the information they hear, such as people with ADHD, a transcript is an excellent resource for them to access after the video ends.
Use White Space and Visual Elements to Hold Your Audience’s Attention
People with dyslexia and ADHD have a tough time digesting long blocks of text. Provide your audience with a visual roadmap, such as images, bulleted lists, and subheadings to keep your audience on page throughout the piece.
In fact, those visual guideposts work equally well with audience members who don’t have disabilities. The average human’s attention span is all of 8.25 seconds – so keep them reading on with some breaks in the action.
Full infographic available here: Wyzowl
Finally, Make Your Content More Accessible to Diverse Audiences
Helping audience members with disabilities have a better user experience on your website is a critical component of positioning your company as a helpful resource. However, you also need to cast a wider net when thinking about accessibility.
Look at your content through the eyes of a more diverse audience. You want your content to welcome people from a broad spectrum of humanity. Open yourself to a tapestry of cultures, and your content will do precisely that.
Start Making Your Content More Accessible Today
With DivvyHQ’s leading-edge content planning and management capabilities, you can tackle the process of revising your content to be more accessible quickly. Create a schedule and task your teams to review your content to find weaknesses in its accessibility and revise them to perform better with your audience members with disabilities or cultural differences.
The best way to experience that difference is to try DivvyHQ for yourself. With no obligation and a full 14 days to give it a test drive, you have nothing to lose. Start your free trial today!