Feb 07 2019

How to Make Your Content Inclusive and Accessible for Visually Impaired

Posted by Patrice Anne Angeles , ,

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that an average of 1.3 billion people worldwide live with some form of visual impairment. But, while it may have compromised their online screen experience in the past, the advancements in technology today has paved the way for visually impaired users to surf the Internet.

In line with this, Google has recently released an accessible search particularly dedicated to visually impaired users. The release of the initiative came on the heels of the search engine adding an audio component to what was once a visual-based security tool, CAPTCHA in response to online petitions from the visually-impaired community. The move was received positively by the blind community.

The way things are moving, it seems only fitting that as a digital marketer, you tap into this opportunity to make your materials as accessible to all as possible. In order to achieve this, you need to develop content that takes your visually impaired audience into consideration.

There are strategies you can integrate into your content marketing to make sure your products and services reach to this otherwise untapped market of consumers. In this article, we look into ways on how to make your content all-inclusive and easily accessible for the visually impaired.

How to Address the Need for Accessibility

A rule of thumb for accessibility is making sure that your content is delivered to the user in more than one way. For instance, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on one’s ability to see colour to identify the essential parts of a website or the ability to use a mouse to navigate.

Having that said, images, audio, video, and other media formats should have text alternatives available including closed captions and transcripts. These will make the content accessible to users with visual and/or hearing impairments. It also has an added benefit of providing additional information to search engines, increasing its chances for higher rankings. Such overlapping between increased accessibility and SEO can be seen in many other sorts of areas.

1. Make your site keyboard-friendly. The first order of business in this inclusivity is to make sure that your website is accessible even without the use of a mouse. Because most assistive technologies today rely on keyboard-only navigation, it is necessary for your site – its pages, content, and links included – to be accessed via a keyboard.

2. Add alt text to images. As the name indicates, an alternative text serves as a textual alternative to visual content including images, graphics, and the likes. However, alt text also provides context to users who’d otherwise miss the image. Beyond accessibility, alt text can also boost your SEO rankings for relevant searches.

3. Use headers. Another key rule to make your site accessible is to structure your content with headers. This tool not only makes your content easier to digest but also improves its overall flow. In addition to that, headers also help viewers interpret your pages and in turn, make the navigation easier. All you have to is to make sure you use the correct headings in your content.

4. Avoid using tables. Although tables come in handy when displaying data, you will want to keep them as straightforward as possible to make it readable for all, including those utilising assistive technology. Better yet, avoid using tables for anything except tubular otherwise, you risk confusing screen readers and other similar devices.

5. Allow for text resizing. Most devices enable text resizing to help those with visual impairments. Thus, if your website doesn’t support this feature, resizing text can damage the clarity of your website, making it difficult for readers to interact with it. What you can do is to avoid setting text size using pixels and instead, set it in a way that it allows the text to scale depending on the screen size.

6. Avoid automatic media playing. Media files that play automatically on a page are downright annoying. But, as irritating they can be, they pose as a greater issue in terms of accessibility. You should, therefore, refrain from including content that starts without prompting them – and the same goes for elements with automatic navigation like carousels.

Accessible Marketing is the New Marketing

Inclusive marketing is all about creating content that is accessible by everyone – the visually impaired included. Making sure your website is welcoming to all is now the way to go and following these measures can significantly help materials become universally accessible. It will not only create a great impact on the quality of your content but on the user experience as well.

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