07 Sep Best Practices for Accessibility
What is accessibility and why should you be thinking about it? Accessibility is about ensuring your website and content is usable to as many people as possible. While we have traditionally thought about accessibility in reference to those with disabilities, it is really more all encompassing. Access can also refer to internet speed, device availability, technological capability, financial ability, and more. Making your content more accessible is not just a trend; it’s about widening your audience and creating a community that is truly inclusive.
Making your content more accessible seems like a daunting task, but a few small adjustments can make an impact. Recently, we interviewed Rebecca Inkrote of BexMarie Designs and she introduced us to a new acronym: POUR. POUR stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Let’s take a closer look at each of these concepts.
Perceivable refers to the idea that all your website information is available in multiple formats so anyone using the site receives the full breadth of your offerings. Some potential customers may access your website using screen readers or other software. Is your text easily readable? If you use images or videos on your site that are important to your content, adding alternate text (alt text) to those images allows screen readers to communicate that additional information, enhancing the user experience. If you add videos to your site, include captions or legible transcripts.
Operable means that your site is easy to navigate using a variety of methods. Can someone use your site using only a keyboard? Do all your links work? One way to troubleshoot this process is to have someone navigate your site and access all of your content. Make this test even more valuable by recording the process using Loom or other video capture software to easily identify pain points after the fact.
Understandable refers to whether your content makes sense. Does your website navigation have clear labels that describe the content on those pages? Again, remember that industry jargon might be confusing for customers, so keep things simple.
Robust means that your site is accessible from a variety of browsers and is responsive on both desktop and mobile. Does your website scale when viewed on a phone or tablet? Does it retain its look and feel, as well as functionality? Check to see if your website platform has this capability and, if not, there are many plug-ins that can help you with this.
It’s good practice to walk through your site on a variety of browsers and platforms to check for issues, but sometimes having a third party audit your website will result in even better feedback. Having someone who isn’t familiar with your industry can be so beneficial in providing another perspective on the user experience of your site. There are also great resources to provide feedback on your site’s accessibility such as WebAIM.org (which stands for Web Accessibility in Mind).
Social Media and Accessibility
Many of the practices we’ve already discussed should also be employed when you’re executing your social media campaigns. Captions should be easy to understand and free from too much industry jargon. Spell out any acronyms and include alt text for your images (check out our previous post on Optimizing Your Images with Alt Tags for more tips!). Don’t forget videos; use subtitles, closed captions, or transcripts so anyone with visual or hearing impairment can still enjoy your video content.
When writing alt text and descriptions, be succinct and avoid redundancy, such as saying “image of…” – screen readers will already identify images. Remember to end alt text with a period so the screen reader knows to pause, imitating the natural cadence of speech. When using acronyms, space out the letters using dashes so that screen readers don’t try to pronounce it as a word.
Hashtags are another area where you can improve your practices. When adding hashtags to your social media posts, capitalize the start of each word in a multiple word hashtag. This makes them easier to read and understand.
As you create content for social media, we encourage you to post your content on multiple channels and in multiple formats so your followers can access your content from their preferred format or social media platform.
Accessibility is a Necessity
It is your responsibility to ensure potential customers can use your websites, access your content, and participate in your online offerings. A large portion of the population experiences some form of accessibility issue, so it is counterproductive to exclude them from your audience and deny them the opportunity to become your most loyal customers. Ignoring accessibility issues may leave you trailing behind your competition.
Want a website audit or help determining how to make your website or social media more accessible? We’d love to help! Contact us today to get started!