Anna Fox
October 31, 2019

Five Steps to Creating Accessible Content

Accessible Content

An accessible content strategy is one that makes sure your content easily accessed and understood by any person with any type of disability.

When building your business, you tend to focus your digital marketing strategy on reaching as many people as possible. Leaving out an entire demographic can be detrimental to that growth.

According to the World Health Organization, about 15% of the global population has some kind of disability. A large portion of those need help in using the Internet.

In the last decade, efforts to make the Internet accessible for everyone have resulted in the World Wide Web Consortium (i.e. W3C) establishing the Web Accessibility standards.

These standards aim at making the Internet accessible to all. Creating accessible websites will not only help to further that goal but will also help businesses reach more people and increase brand loyalty.

Besides, web accessibility is being actively regulated. In the United States, failure to comply to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is considered discrimination. This has resulted in an increasing number of accessibility-related lawsuits and fines. And it is a disaster for a company’s online reputation.

Here’s what content creators need to do to make their content accessible to avoid leaving out a huge portion of their target audience. Some appear to be standard Content Marketing advice:

1. Use Informative and Descriptive Titles

The title tag is what distinguishes one webpage from other pages. Unique and powerful titles should act as the focal points.

  • The page title should define the scope of your content.
  • Remove all irrelevant details.
  • Don’t include catchy words just to pique the interest of readers (especially if it has little to do with the topic you’ll be focusing on)

A title will be the users’ first look at your brand. Make sure that the first impression is a good one.

When it comes to web accessibility, the title is always the first page element that is announced by audio screen readers. So the title tag is critical for users with visual disabilities.

How to Create an Accessible Page Title

  • Make sure the page title is unique to your site to avoid users getting lost.
  • Craft a title that accurately describes the page’s purpose and content.

Use these guidelines to craft an accessible page title:

How to Create Accessible Page Title

You may also want to read: Does All Of Your Social Media Content Serve Your Whole Audience

2. Keep Your Content Clear and Concise

The title may be the first impression for your readers, but it’s your content that will keep them coming back. When creating accessible content, clarity is key.

Readers with cognitive disabilities may need an additional explanation of the terms that you mention. Furthermore, short sentences and paragraphs will help people using screen readers to understand your content easier.

All content should have a logical flow. Include an introduction, supporting information, and a conclusion. If you find this difficult, you may want to invest in writers who are good at creating clear well-structured content.

How to Make Your Content Accessible

Use the Yoast SEO plugin. This checks how easy your content is to read. The lower the number, the more work your article needs. Don’t write articles that are difficult to read if you want people to read your articles!

Yoast plugin reading level

For a more robust solution, try accessiBe. It uses artificial intelligence to automatically make your content accessible.

For example, to help the elderly and people with various cognitive impairments that struggle with understanding language, accessiBe offers a built-in dictionary that instantly provides a full description of abbreviations and terms, without sending your visitors to an external website.

accessiBe builtin dictionary

3. Structure Your Content in a Clear Logical Way

Use H2-H3 subheadings to structure your content. The structure can improve readability and understanding for everyone – especially those with cognitive difficulties. According to W3 guidelines:

Headings communicate the organization of the content on the page. Web browsers, plug-ins, and assistive technologies can use them to provide in-page navigation.

Those who have visual difficulties and rely on screen readers for help navigating the Internet need to have an established flow. Otherwise, the information may be hard to comprehend.

How to Structure Your Content for Accessibility

Now that you know that H2/H3 subheadings are useful not only for SEO but also for web accessibility, include content structuring in your writing checklist.

You can research what people are asking in your industry and use your findings to build your article structure.

I use Text Optimizer to find popular questions around my target query:

Text Optimizer questions

TextOptimizer uses semantic research to extract questions from Google’s search snippets. It can drive your content ideation as well as article structuring. You can also use Google’s “People Also Ask” results to come up with more related questions to build up your content hierarchy.

Use this writing checklist to keep your content concise and well-structured. It also urges you to add definitions and sources:

writing checklist

4. Add Supporting Information

With the availability of resources online in recent years, content creators have access to thousands of photos, infographics, and multimedia content. All of those multi-format assets can make your content much better and more informative. However, to make it accessible, it needs to be properly supported with text descriptions.

For images, it’s important that you include alternative text and or image title text to clearly describe each image for those using screen readers. If needed, your post should link to a text-only version, making it easier for screen readers to interpret content.

Visual and audio content will also require some form of text alternatives. For videos, you can provide transcripts or captions directly inside the video. Podcasts and other audio formats need a full transcript. While providing this information does take time and effort, the benefits will far outweigh the disadvantages. Text content will also provide more context for search engines to use when ranking your pages.

How to Make Multimedia Content Accessible

There’s a free accessibility bookmarklet available that you can use every time you publish a new article to make sure your images are all accessible:

image accessibility bookmarklet

accessiBe can also automate this process: It uses image recognition technology to automatically add descriptive alt text to all images that have none:

accessiBe image recognition

5. Link Text Must Be Descriptive

A link is a great way to let users continue browsing your website, sending them to your product page or to related informative content.

Most screen readers have a feature that allows them to follow links. If the links are labeled with vague text (like “click here”), screen reader users will find themselves lost or confused. Label your links with actionable and detailed information to help guide your users in the direction that they actually want to go.

How to Make Your Links Accessible

Yale University has a comprehensive guide on ensuring your links are accessible. Use their checklist:

Accessible links

Conclusion

It is a smart marketing strategy to try and reach out to as many people as possible: You want anyone to be able to read your content and engage with your site. Excluding an entire demographic can be a major marketing mistake resulting in you gaining a bad reputation or even a lawsuit.

Complying with W3C standards is an excellent place to start. The content you create must be clear, concise, and well-structured, from the title all the way down to your images and links. You should take as much care in creating accessible content online for your business as you take into building it up.

 

Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_niroworld‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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Anna Fox is the blogger behind Hire Bloggers, a website helping bloggers to find jobs and monetize their sites.