But making content accessible doesn’t just fall to the marketing department alone. Every team creates content used to communicate with your audiences, especially beyond the marketing funnel. Making sure all teams keep the user experiences of a diverse audience in mind is important. Not only for your brand image, it’s also the right thing to do. It can be helpful to have an accessibility style guide.
Below, we’ve created a guide to help you. It’s been created with accessibility best practice and web writing standards in mind. By following this guide, you’ll be improving the customer experience for everyone, including people with disabilities.
Fill in the form to access this recorded webinar and gain an overview of Plain English best practice.
Explore how to write reports, guides, emails & more that are easy for all your audience to understand. Take part in interactive tasks and practice your new skills.
Find out more about this Plain English webinar.
2. Choose an accessible font style and structure
Making content accessible is also about optimising visual elements for accessibility. The typeface you choose, as well as the size and layout of your text, can impact how easy content is to read. Not only that, how text is laid out on the page also has an impact.
- Use a font that’s easily-parsed. In other words, the eye can quickly determine the shape and pattern of. It helps to use simple and familiar fonts such as Tahoma, Helvetica, Arial and Verdana.
- Make sure there’s a good amount of space between each letter and word.
- Use a limited number of font variations to reduce cognitive load across your website.
- Use bold text rather than italics or underline when emphasising a piece of text. Italics and underlines can appear 'busy' to people with dyslexia and vision impairments.
- Use left-aligned text where possible. Center and right-aligned should be used in moderation. Avoid fully justified text which can be hard for people with dyslexia to read because of the uneven spacing.
- Present content using an Easy Read format. In other words, combine text and images. This way, content is broken up and uses visuals to help understanding.
All the tips we’ve given you above offer a better user experience for all your audience. It also makes it easier for search engines to understand what your web pages are about. And that’s beneficial for SEO. Improving accessibility can help improve your organic reach too.
Free guide: Accessible content for marketing, comms and IT professionals
A quick, practical guide to creating accessible content for websites.
Download for free and share with your teams. Help them to understand how to make information accessible.
4. Create accessible visuals
When it comes to accessibility, it’s important to remember visual accessibility. But, what is visual accessibility?
Visual accessibility is about making sure all users enjoy the same benefits from your beautiful designs. This includes someone that is colour-blind, or has visual impairments. Visual elements should be given alternative text so these users can enjoy them too. This is text that’s read out to screen reader users when they come across an image. Visual elements also help to improve understanding, so alternative text should also convey meaning.
Some tips to improve visual accessibility are:
- Add alternative text using the <alt> tag
- Use 125 characters or less. Otherwise, screen readers might not read out the full description.
- Make sure alt text clearly conveys the meaning of the image. If the image is hyperlinked, the alt text should describe the destination of the link.
- Make sure alt text doesn’t repeat what’s in the surrounding text. And that it doesn’t include the words ‘Image of’, of ‘picture of’
- Use a description for images of company logos and brand marks. Don’t simply say ‘company logo’.
- For complex visuals such as infographics or graphs, provide a full description on the web page. Or, link to a new page with a full description. Whichever you choose, use the alt text to tell screen reader users where to find the full description.
Webinar: Creating accessible & inclusive digital content
From pdfs and graphics, to videos and social media, it's important that we open up every piece of digital content.
In this webinar, hear from the experts at AbilityNet, Content Design London and Texthelp. Gain practical advice to help you create content that’s available and accessible to everyone.
If you prefer to use a social media management tool, make sure it has accessibility features included. Not all allow you to add alternative text to images, for example. We recommend using Sprout Social or Hootsuite.
For more support, check out this Facebook group dedicated to Accessible Social.
3 tips to creating accessible webinars:
- Choose an accessible platform. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet include accessibility features like live captioning and closed captions. They’re also fully accessible using a keyboard only, and support screen readers.
- Speak clearly and slowly. Make sure there’s a way for viewers to raise a question or concern. It’s also a good idea to offer notes ahead of time to allow viewers to follow along.
- Give your content in multiple formats, especially if you’re giving a presentation. Use a mix of text and visuals. Describe visuals that convey meaning.
In a recent webinar, our guest speaker gave a visual description of herself to kick off the session. This offered an inclusive welcome to all viewers. Check it out in the video snippet on the left.
Watch the full webinar: What makes content inclusive?
In this session, hear from Clare, our inclusive speaker featured in the snippet above. As Content Designer at Content Design London, Clare shares expert advice on creating inclusive content. Explore how readability, use of language, and inclusive design comes into play. Gain an overview of readability guidelines, and discover best practice around inclusive language and design.
At Texthelp, we use the transcription service on Rev.com.
With this service, a human transcribes the audio. This is better than relying on an audio transcription, which can often be inaccurate. There’s also the option to add timing to the transcript. This is a nice addition as it gives people the option to navigate to parts of your podcast as they read the script. It can help with understanding.
We also host our Texthelp Talks podcast on Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout allows us to add a transcript when we’re uploading a new episode. We also embed the episode onto our website, and include a full transcript on the web page.
Here’s an example: Podcast: 6 myths designers and marketers believe about web accessibility.
That’s why colour should never be used alone to convey meaning.
Your online visitors should be able to understand information if all the colours were removed. Not only that, choosing an accessible colour palette is important when designing any digital asset. The colours used should offer good colour contrast between background and foreground. WCAG* accessibility requirements call for a colour contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for text under 18pts. Or, 3:1 for text larger than 18pts. (*WCAG Level AA criteria).
Using a colour contrast checker such as WebAim’s contrast checker can help.
That way, you can bring your whole organisation with you. Feel free to use the above content to help you create your own accessibility style guide.
We’ve also included some extra tips and tricks below:
- Gain buy-in from Senior Leadership. If they’re on board, it’ll make it easier to implement an accessibility style guide. Share with them why creating accessible content is important, for everyone in the organisation.
- Start to open up the conversation about making content accessible. Speak to your Marketing team and let them know it’s something you’ll be focusing on.
- Collaborate with your Design team to establish guidelines on accessible language and accessible design. Together, you’ll create great guidance to set your teams up for success.
- Share your commitment across the wider organisation. Provide training using your new guidelines. Help everyone in your organisation to content that meets the needs of all people.
At Texthelp, we created a roadmap to improve digital accessibility and inclusion. Feel free to take inspiration from our commitments and promises.
Free accessibility checklists: WCAG checklist for Marketers and Designers
We’ve created checklists to help you kick start your efforts, and get the conversation going. They’ve been created with the accessibility requirements of WCAG in mind.