Creating and displaying content that is available for everyone to use, regardless of any impairment, is generally a collaborative effort. Designers, developers, and writers must all work together to ensure that the content is able to be easily accessed by people with disabilities. Before creating any content, you must consider all potential viewers, as there could be a number of impairments—vision, hearing, mobility, cognition, or even antiquated technology (devices or software).
Ensuring Your Content is Accessible
Content accessibility should be at the forethought of production. Before creating or publishing your content, consider the tips below. These tips can help save you time and money on accessibility remediation. The comprehensive web content guidelines are available on the W3C webpage.
Headings are a crucial element in creating accessible content. They allow screen reading technology to navigate to specific areas of content, which saves the user time.
Do not use images of text. Screen readers will only see it as an image
Use descriptive text for any graphs or diagrams
Avoid using acronyms, when possible. Sometimes, screen readers will try to sound out the acronym. You can imagine how that would sound. Confusing!
Avoid using color references as a sole means to distinguish between items. Example: You can say “click the green box” if there is only one (1) box but don’t say “select the green box to continue” if there is a green, blue, and yellow box, as a screen reader can’t distinguish color. Provide another means for the user utilize the content, such as “Click on the button labeled ‘complete’.”
Avoid directional language. This means writing things like, "See below for more details."
If there are links in your content, ensure that they are descriptive—what should the user expect when they click on it.
Do not use “click here” or “more” as the link will not be read, just the text. People who use just keyboards to maneuver a website will normally bounce around between links. If the link just says "click here" the user will not understand what the link is for. Instead, blend the link into your sentence. For instance, instead of “for more information about CommonAccess click here”, use “read more about CommonAccess.”
Minimize having links open in new windows, as it can be confusing to users.If you can't avoid it, make sure that there is a warning that lets the user know they are leaving your website.
Be aware that using the URL in your content may cause issues for impaired users as well, as screen readers will read each letter of the URL individually. This may be no real issue if the URL is short, like fakeurl.com but if the URL is more complex like fakeurl.com/articles/22515/testing-out-fake-url, well, that's just cruel and an unusual punishment. If you absolutely must use a URL, shorten it using a URL shortener.
Graphics and Images
Be sure to include alternative text (alt text) to tell the user the purpose/description of your image
*Note: If the image displayed is for decorative purposes (image doesn’t provide any information about the page), you do not have to include alt text, as the screen reader will ignore the image.
Do not use images that include text, if possible, as an alternative provide an explanation of the image in text on the page
Keep your writing simple. If you write plainly, you can help improve accessibility
Short sentences are beneficial to screen readers, the recommended sentence length is between 20-25 words.
Be sure to caption any videos.
Ensure that video player controls are accessible using either mouse or keyboard
More information on video accessibility can be found on the W3C Multimedia Webpage.
What More Can You Do?
The tips above are just a starting point to accessibility. Below are 5 quick steps you can take to ensure that not only your content but your website is accessible.
Plan: Think about the many different potential users of your goods and services—this includes impaired users, which make up 19% of the population
Analyze & Audit your website: Utilizing a service such as CommonAccess Pro to check for compliance can be the difference between spending $30 and $50,000+
Implementing the steps the Department of Justice (DOJ) Outlined in Previous Settlements
Ensure that you are adhering to WCAG 2.0/2.1 Guidelines
Post an Accessibility Statement
For more information on posting an accessibility statement, contact CommonAccess today.