Converting accessibility into opportunity

Converting accessibility into opportunity

2020 is the time to become accessible. Whether you’re looking to widen your audience or increase your site visibility, accessibility should be seen as an opportunity to boost your site’s reach and revenue.

Website accessibility is an untapped market. 61 million adults in the USA have some type of disability. By far the most common disability is immobility. Ask yourself – can users with the inability to use a mouse efficiently navigate your site? If the answer is no, you’re not only left with an unsatisfied customer but you’re also losing out on a potential lifelong user.

In a nutshell, a site with strong accessibility will assist those with visual cognitive impairment, immobility, and hearing loss.  Ultimately a site with strong accessibility presents a win-win scenario – users with disabilities have a better experience on your site, whilst your potential customer pool is broadened.

Accessibility – A title visibility booster  

Google and other search engines love accessible content – your SEO rankings will improve and you will start to attract a wider, more varied community of ALL users.

Accessible content drives your SEO rankings on all platforms – from the phone to the computer – and greatly helps to increase title visibility.

Quick wins for accessibility updates

Quick tips to improve accessibility and SEO at the same time!

Tab functionality
The use of a keyboard to navigate a page without the use of a mouse. This form of navigation should always follow the visual flow of the page: left to right, top to bottom. Header first, then main menu, then page content and finally the footer. This order is the reading order for screen readers and is determined by the code.

Update your HTML code to be as semantic as possible – basically this means make it logical so that the code is easy to understand both for visitors and screen readers.  The language you use can affect accessibility and don’t use unnecessary jargon or slang terms.  Semantic HTML doesn't take any longer to write than non-semantic HTML.

Alt tags / Alternative Text

It’s vital that the images, audio and videos you stock on your site use appropriate alt tags.  An alt tag is a short descriptive label which you can add to your media content, and is visible to search engines, screen readers and users in accessibility mode. Add these effectively to boost your site’s SEO discoverability, and create further navigational benefits to users.  Never allow auto-play, and no flashing content!

Header Elements
Search engines use your site’s header elements (headings) to index your page content, which also boosts your discoverability. Regardless of disability, correctly structured headings help users to segment your pages, and can help you to highlight particular points on a page. Headers are ranked in size and importance from H1 down to H6.  If your headers aren’t tagged properly your users won’t be able to navigate smoothly, and you may lose their custom altogether.  A screen reader runs through a website by vocalising text found in the HTML.

Fonts, colour contrast ratio
These are simple to update when stocking your website. People with low visual ability can find it difficult to read text from a background color if it has low contrast. ‍Never use light grey text on a dark grey background. Check you have it right with external tools

Colour contrast in grey

Colour contrast ratio (CR)
Ratio depends on size of wording.

WCAG 2 level AA:

Standard fonts
Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, and Calibri.

WebAim Contrast Checker website example

Size of text
The smaller the text, the more color contrast is needed

Generally it's widely accepted that publishers should start with WCAG 2.0 AA working towards WCAG2.1

So in conclusion, improving website accessibility will optimise your SEO visibility and improve your brand credibility. It will also widen your audience to those with or without disabilities, including a new audience of all ages and abilities previously precluded from the digital revolution. Finally it helps us resolve what is a social and moral imperative: those with disabilities should have the same equal right to access digital content as those who are non-disabled.

Top resources for not falling foul of regulations

Add your accessibility statement  - some good examples are below:

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