IS YOUR CONTENT BEING ACCIDENTALLY DISCRIMINATIVE?!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR ONLINE CONTENT MORE ACCESSIBLE
No matter how good your digital content is, if it’s not accessible to a wide range of audiences, then it’s just not going to be effective. A huge proportion of our population lives with a disability or neurodiversity that creates obstacles in their everyday lives, so it’s vital that we all do our bit to make our content as accessible as possible for everyone.
23 September is International Day of Sign Languages, and the theme this year is ‘We Sign For Human Rights’. We feel that this is the perfect time to highlight ways to make online content more accessible; it’s something that we’re consciously focusing on in our own work, to make sure the content we’re putting out is as inclusive as it can be.
ADD ALT TEXT TO NON-TEXT ITEMS
If you’re including images, infographics, charts, or any other non-text item in a post, it’s important to include alt text to describe the item. This way, screen readers can pick up that there is something there, and they can communicate the description to the consumer.
This text should be as descriptive as possible within the character limit, to ensure that any visually impaired consumers still receive the same experience as anyone else when enjoying your content.
INCLUDE CAPTIONS ON VIDEO OR AUDIO CONTENT
Video and audio content without captions is redundant to those who are hard of hearing. They’re vital for allowing the consumer to enjoy these forms of content, and their inclusion should be a default part of the content creation.
A number of platforms will be able to automatically generate captions for video or audio files, which makes the process even easier. It’s best to make sure that any captions are written in a style that is clear and easy to read, to ensure maximum accessibility.
USE CLEAR AND SIMPLE LANGUAGE
Ultimately, you don’t know the circumstances of every single person that’s on the receiving end of your content, so sticking with clear and simple language is a good standard practice. This isn’t to say that you should dumb your content down, but instead that you should make sure that acronyms are expanded the first time they’re mentioned, and that technical language is either explained or kept to a minimum.
There are of course exceptions to this, for example if you’re writing a piece of copy for industry specialists then the language will be more technical and advanced than if the piece were for the wider public, but it’s still well worth keeping in mind.
CREATE AN EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND STRUCTURE
Some people want to quickly grasp the meaning behind your content, some struggle to process big chunks of information, and some need screen readers to help them consume content. Employing the use of shorter paragraphs, headings, subheadings, lists, and more can help to make sure that your copy is structured as clearly as is possible, to make as accessible as possible to everyone.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CAMELCASE
When you’re adding hashtags to your content, making use of camel case is a really easy way to make your content more accessible. This is where the first letter of each word within a hashtag is capitalised. Take for example the hashtag #mynameis. When it’s written with all lowercase text the letters run into one another and can prove a challenge to decipher. But, by using camel case and instead writing it as #MyNameIs, it’s instantly clearer what the tag is saying.
Just like the human eye, screen readers have difficulty identifying individual words within a hashtag when they’re written without camel case, so consumers who use screen readers could be alienated from some of your content.
Ensuring that your content is accessible to everyone is vital for it to be successful. It’s often said that we should put ourselves in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their needs, and this holds true when it comes to creating your online content. We believe that accessibility should be at the core of every brand’s values, and we hope that these suggestions help you get started on ensuring your digital content is as accessible as it can be!