In this blog, you’ll learn:
- What digital accessibility is
- Why digital accessibility is important
- How digital accessibility is beneficial
- How you can use digital accessibility in your business
Here’s Why Digital Accessibility is Essential for Your Company’s Website
As a small business owner, you have plenty of things to worry about, let alone running your business! So why should you care about using digital accessibility in your marketing?
You probably know that digital marketing is important for your business, but it’s also important to make sure everyone can access it. Digital accessibility is the practice of ensuring that everyone has access to your information, no matter their ability. It helps people living with disabilities use the Internet without complications.
In addition to helping people living with disabilities, making content accessible can also have many benefits for you and your business. For example, you can widen the range of people who notice and interact with your business online.
Keep reading to find out what digital accessibility is, why it’s important, how it benefits you and what you can do to make your web and content digitally accessible.
What is Digital Accessibility?
Digital accessibility is the practice of making your website and online content usable for as many people as possible. The World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) developed web content accessibility guidelines to make it easier to understand accessibility.
Accessibility guidelines were made for people living with disabilities in mind. But making your site and content accessible benefits everyone, including those using mobile devices or those with slow network connections. The guidelines require your content and website to be:
- Perceivable: Visitors can identify the content using one or more of the five basic senses.
- Operable: Visitors can control user interface elements (e.g., buttons can be clicked by their mouse, keyboard, voice command or some other method).
- Understandable: Visitors can easily comprehend your content.
- Robust: The content uses well-adopted web standards that work across multiple web browsers, today and in the future.
Additionally, many countries around the world, including the United States, require web accessibility — it’s the law.
Why is Digital Accessibility Important?
Digital accessibility is important because it gives access to everyone, no matter their ability. When you make your website accessible, you ensure that all of your potential visitors, including people with disabilities, can use your website easily and understand the information provided.
How much a person can access opportunities impacts their quality of life. Digital accessibility helps the widest range of people to unlock their abilities and live life fully. Inaccessibility negatively impacts all aspects of life, including economic, social and mental wellness.
How Many People Have Disabilities?
There are over 60 million U.S. adults who have some form of disability. That is one in four Americans! This number is expected to double by 2050. That’s a lot of people who don’t have complete access to the Internet. That’s also a big number of potential customers you’re missing out on.
What is Considered a Disability?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.”
While there are many kinds of disabilities, there are some that benefit from web accessibility more than others:
- Vision: Blindness or difficulty seeing
- Hearing: Deafness and hearing loss
- Movement: Limited movement, such as paralysis or loss of a limb
- Communicating: Speech impairment, inability to talk
- Mental Health and Thinking: Loss of mental functioning, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other mental illnesses
- Learning or Remembering: Learning disabilities, memory loss
As the rates of disability continue to grow, so does the need for businesses to update their digital marketing. By optimizing for accessibility, you will broaden your reach as you communicate to this underserved population.
How Does Digital Accessibility Benefit My Business?
Digital accessibility not only helps people with disabilities but also benefits you and your business. W3C notes that “accessibility overlaps with other best practices such as mobile web design… usability, design for older users, and search engine optimization (SEO).” Plus, many case studies indicate that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs and increased audience reach.
When you optimize your website and content to be accessible, you can get a lot of SEO benefits. Chief among these are ranking better on Google and boosting your credibility. Ultimately, these improvements will help bring in more traffic to your website.
Speaking of more traffic, making your website and content accessible will also allow more disabled people to interact with your business! According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C), there are over one billion people throughout the world that have some sort of disability. Experts estimate that this group has more than $6 trillion to spend! Therefore, by implementing digital accessibility, you’re widening your audience and increasing your prospective customers.
Not only does accessibility help people living with disabilities, but it also helps everyone else! Accessibility improves usability and simplicity in your content. A study found that 79% of companies found inclusive software improved usability and customer experience. Caring about accessibility also demonstrates good ethics and morals, which improves your public image.
How Can I Implement Digital Content Accessibility in My Marketing?
Now that you know digital accessibility is important, how do you implement it into your marketing? There are many steps you can take to make your website and content accessible. Here’s how you can implement digital content accessibility in your web design, content, images and graphic design, and videos content.
Web Design Accessibility
The biggest step you can take to implement web accessibility in your marketing is to optimize your website. Here are some ways you can update your website to be more accessible:
- Choose the Right Fonts – Sans serif fonts are the easiest to read because they don’t have any ornaments on the letters. You will also want to limit the number of fonts you use by using one for your body text and one for your headlines. You should always use a size 12 font or bigger for readability. If you want to emphasize something, use a bold font rather than an italicized font.
- Improve Web Navigation – Make sure users can use their keyboard to use your navigation. This includes all buttons, menus and any other elements on your webpage. Users should also be able to navigate with voice-control systems.
- Optimize Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons – CTA buttons should always have an accessible name that describes the action the user will take, which is usually the text on the button itself. Some examples of this type of text are “click here” and “sign up.”
Content refers to written content in your marketing, like blogs, social media, email content and flyers or handouts. Optimizing your content accessibility will make it easier to read for all users and also provide SEO benefits. Here are some ways you can make your content more accessible.
- Enhance Structure and Readability – Using proper heading tags and following a logical hierarchy with headings and subheadings will make it easier to read your content. Use only one H1 header and organize H2s and H3s as subheadings. You should also use bulleted lists, summary sections and bolded text for easier scanning. We also recommend left-aligning text, including headlines, for easier reading.
- Use Descriptive Link Text – Don’t use “click here” links. Instead, create descriptive link text to make it clear where the link leads. For example, check out how we placed our links throughout this blog!
- Upload Accessible Files – If you include links to any type of files, such as Word documents or PDFs, to PDFs, make sure they’re easy to view and download.
For content on social media, you’ll also want to include descriptive image text in your posts. Facebook and Instagram already provide automated image descriptions, but it’s always best to write your own.
Image and Graphic Design Accessibility
When including images and graphic design in your content, it’s essential to ensure someone can understand what the image is if they aren’t able to see it. Using digital accessibility with images especially helps if something happens where your website isn’t working properly. Visitors will still be able to understand what the image is even if it’s not displaying. Here are ways you can make your images and designs more accessible:
- Add Alt Text – Your images should include alternative (alt) text that describes the content of the image. Your alt text should be vivid and valuable to someone who is visually impaired. You can also improve your page SEO by trying to include your focus keyword in at least one image on the page. However, you should only do this if the keyword helps describe the image.
- Complement Colors with Other Visual Cues – For those who are colorblind or have low vision, only using color to differentiate between items on your website will cause problems for them. To fix that, you can use various design elements to make buttons, text and more stand out. Consider using different sizes, patterns or borders to better communicate what’s going on. If you do just use color, make sure the shades you choose have high contrast from each other.
- Infographics – If you have infographics, avoid exporting them as images. This is because the content of photos can’t be read by assistant devices or by Google. Instead, be sure to export your infographics as PDFs.
Video Content Accessibility
Videos are very important to your marketing. Close to 85% of internet users watch videos every month! Making your videos accessible will ensure even more people will be watching them.
One way to do this is by always including transcripts and captions with your videos. Doing so will help people with hearing impairments and whose first language is different from what’s spoken in the video. When creating captions, make sure to include additional elements other than what was said, like music or sound effects.
As a bonus benefit, captions can help you capture the attention of users who scroll their social feeds without wearing headphones.
Make Your Content Digitally Accessible Today!
All these steps probably feel overwhelming, but it’s important to know you don’t have to fix everything right away. Being aware of accessibility in your marketing is the first step!
If you’re curious about how your website is doing with accessibility, you can use a free website accessibility checker that will show you how you can improve.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re here to help. Frontier Marketing implements these strategies into digital marketing, so you don’t have to! We specialize in optimizing and structuring websites and content to be easily readable for businesses in Fox Lake, IL, and the Chicagoland region. Contact us today to learn more!
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