There has always been a need for accessible online content and digital marketing.
Due to a failure to provide better accessible content, disabled people in the UK make up the majority of adult internet non-users and until recently most online content providers did very little to make their work accessible to tackle this problem (ONS, 2019). As more of our lives move online it’s vital that digital creators and communicators take the simple steps needed to ensure their content is available to everyone.
Follow our straightforward guide to learn how to integrate accessibility standards into your approach to digital marketing. Broaden your audience, be more inclusive and improve the content you create.
Changing Websites For The Better
Let’s begin by considering how to improve your website’s accessibility. There’s a variety of simple changes you can apply to your content, layout and design which make a world of difference.
Content and Layout
Poorly laid out websites aren’t good for anyone. They’re difficult to navigate at the best of times and are a detriment to your SEO – that is, how easy your site is to find on search engines. They’re also a menace for people with visual impairments and learning difficulties.
Make sense of your content with a content strategy and tackle these issues. Once you have a clear understanding of the content on your website, where it should be, and how you should navigate it, it becomes much easier to incorporate a hierarchical structure and clear headings which greatly increase the accessibility of your site (ClickZ, 2016). It also helps your site to function better in general and improves your SEO.
You can go further and create a site map to show your content plainly and clearly. Essentially a list of the content on your site, a site map is an invaluable asset for improving navigation, SEO and most importantly accessibility. Learning the steps to creating a site map is relatively easy with online aid, and resources such as the XML Sitemap Validator tool can support you through the process (Quicksprout, 2019).
Adding alternative text descriptions to your website is another simple change which helps make your content more accessible. Alternative text, or alt text, descriptions are written explanations of the content and purpose of an image, embedded object, GIF or piece of audio or video content. If your message is relying on graphics or audio alone, it will be lost on people with visual and hearing impairments, so ensure your point is accessible to them by including alt text descriptions that tools such as screen readers can pick up on.
Once you’ve established your content and layout it’s time to reconsider your website design. It’s important to always keep in mind how your site appears to a variety of people and how it could negatively impact their ability to engage.
Colour contrast is a key factor of web design which can make a site unusable for those with low vision conditions. Ensure your contrast ratio makes for easy reading of text on coloured backgrounds, and don’t be afraid to use tools to help you. The snook.ca Colour Contrast Check rates colour combinations by accessibility and lowvision.support simulates the experience of someone with a low vision condition on your site.
Using images and colour choices to convey information can also have an impact on the accessibility of your website (3PillarGlobal, 2018). Getting a point across with just an image or a coloured graphic may seem concise, but screen readers can’t make that point accessible and those with visual impairments will be left out of the conversation.
Finally, changing your text style is one of the smallest changes you can make, but it’ll have a big impact. Increasing the size of your text beyond the typical size 12 or 14 improves the legibility of your content from the outset, but you should also consider your font choice. Keep away from overly decorative styles and instead lean towards more simple options. Also take advantage of fonts specially made to be accessible for those with dyslexia or visual impairments, such as Read Regular, Lexie Readable and Tiresias (Bureau of Internet Accessibility, 2017).
Switch Up Your Social Media
Your website is not the only aspect of your digital marketing approach where accessibility needs to be considered. Your brand or organisation’s social media can also be tweaked to make it more accessible. There are 4 quick and easy changes you can apply which will widen your online audience and make your brand’s social media a more welcoming place.
- Alternative text (alt text)
- Video captions
- How to use hashtags and emojis
- Choose your language carefully
In much the same way that it’s important to make images on your website accessible, it’s useful to provide alternative text descriptions for your images on social media. Keep it short, sweet and meaningful – if you write down everything you see then those using screen readers will soon get bored. As the major social media platforms have incorporated alt text into their systems, it’s the work of a moment to add it to all your posts. Head to their ‘Settings’ and ‘Advanced Settings’ tabs to get started (RNIB, 2020).
Video captions are another very easy way to open your content to a wider audience. On social media, videos are some of the most engaging assets you can use, so why limit their reach? By adding captions it makes your content accessible to people with hearing impairments and auditory processing difficulties.
Tools such as Kapwing’s Subtitle maker allow you to add captions to videos before you upload them to social media, the app Clipomatic lets you caption your Instagram stories and on Facebook there’s a built-in option to add captions manually (Shondaland, 2019).
Next, turn your eye to your hashtags and emojis. Capitalising the first letter of each word in a hashtag works wonders for making it both easier for screen readers to communicate to their users and simpler for people with low vision conditions or cognitive disadvantages to understand (RNIB, 2019). Being mindful of an extravagant use of emojis is another big help – you might think 10 consecutive smiley faces is the best way to make your point, but the person hearing a screen reader read them out will probably disagree!
Finally, take the time to choose your language carefully. Use simple language in your copy to help users with learning difficulties or cognitive disabilities. It’s also good practice in general – social media captions that you can understand quickly lead to more engagement.
Making inclusive word choices also helps to improve accessibility. Swap ableist language such as ‘crazy’ and ‘I stand’ for alternatives like ‘wild’ and ‘I support’, and add trigger warnings to your posts if they may cause emotional or mental distress (Shondaland, 2019).
Bear these accessible digital marketing tips in mind and start to make the online world a more accessible place for everyone in it. We also recommend consulting digital accessibility experts like W3C – Web Accessibility Initiative, British Computer Association of the Blind, British Dyslexia Association and Deafax.
If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch and we can support you.