Create and deliver accessible content to your audience

How would the information on your website be altered if your audience was likely to see it under intense pressure, in 90 seconds, on a mobile device, and away from the main thoroughfare in a gas station restroom?

The difficulty is one that charities working with victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking encounter. The question is:

  • Is the download speed of this homepage graphic too slow?
  • One touch calling capabilities on the phones?
  • Is the text simple to read under pressure and in a hurry?
  • Is the most essential stuff impossible to miss?

Fortunately, the extra effort spent catering to this audience’s demands probably improves the overall user experience for everyone who visits the website.

You’ve undoubtedly profited from the “curb cuts” urban design invention from the middle of the 20th century. These wheelchair ramps on the sidewalk improve the quality of life for so many individuals. Travelers can simply move their baggage to and from the pavement, parents can avoid jarring sleeping infants in strollers, and delivery people can effortlessly push their rolling carts.

Accessible building materials benefit more people than you probably know, just like curb cuts do.

Put on the audience’s shoes.

Even though you are passionate about your material, it could only take up a brief (but ideally significant) period in other people’s busy lives. Here are some strategies for increasing the impact of such moments.

Reduced expectations

In my professional life, I’ve participated in or seen hundreds of usability tests where users were asked to complete activities on a website, app, or other digital system. Even when I pay employees to accomplish work as our team observes, it’s amazing how much they miss, refuse to do, or neglect. Even when they are focused, the viewers’ attention seems to be waning.

To place significant concepts at the top of your content, use the inverted pyramid writing technique. Pick visuals that are simple to understand. Make concise, informative videos.

Make sure that each member of your content team is familiar with the subtleties of the target audience. A website that is trauma-informed might take extra effort to avoid utilising images or videos that could be upsetting. Any software targeting a sizable ESL user base would employ straightforward language rather than idioms. Your content is more likely to be successful if your team has a solid understanding of the target audience and any pertinent context.

if required for everyone.

Everyone is my audience, you could be thinking, if you work for the government, a hospital, or any other organisation that provides services to the broader public. Planning for a wide range of individuals and their requirements can become necessary.

In the past, it was thought that serving 80% of your audience was adequate. That still leaves one in five people who were turned off by your material. Should I inform the boss or should you?

An inclusive and more modern perspective proposes that if you take care of everyone, you’ll take care of your severe instances.

Your identities are again relevant in this situation. Do you have a character that speaks for the user group that has blurry eyesight, unsteady hands, or little technical knowledge? Do you also have a character for an ambitious young software engineer? Can you remember both as you create content?

Analyze your material.

How can you tell if the objectives of your content’s audience will be met? Find representative audience members to test the material with. Finding out how accessible your material actually is may be done in this method.

Find members of that audience.

You need to talk to folks who have typical objectives and circumstances. If it isn’t possible, you might have to use proxies who are familiar with the group. Even if it’s not ideal, testing with relevant subjects is preferable to either not testing at all or testing with coworkers.

You may learn a lot from standard usability testing that includes content-related activities and queries. This is the ideal starting point for any website or app. You may also analyse the content of a rival to get ideas and steer clear of pitfalls.

Consider the concerns you have with the material: “Will they get that this is for stressed-out 40-something parents?” Afterward, devise activities and inquiries to attempt to elicit the responses, such as “Who do you believe this is for?”

I’ve tried out a website for a yoga studio before. (For instance, “Register for a class.”) I rapidly learned that the site’s photos of physically fit and attractive people scared research participants.

Anytime you have material, test.

Even when your material is subpar, you may still learn a lot from it. You want to avoid introducing information that is off-target and any shocks. Early education gives you time to adjust. This might entail putting content on paper and asking readers to underline any unclear sentences. Maybe present the phrases that spring to mind with a picture that you want to utilise. Are they the key phrases that you and your company are looking for? Before a video is finished, request the opinions of the appropriate audience members.

After testing with a small sample of your audience, patterns might appear. Statistical significance is not needed for this kind of scholarly, peer-reviewed, quantitative study. You may participate in the qualitative research that Facebook, Microsoft, Lenovo, and many other companies perform with small groups of individuals.

Where to start

According to data from the U.S. Census, more than 25% of Americans live with a handicap. Consider how often you might not be operating at 100% even if you are not one of these folks. Consider drained parents, buzzed coworkers, or someone confined to a hospital with a sick family member. What about somebody going through a nasty breakup or any other unforeseen circumstances in life? Everyone occasionally performs poorly. Make sure they don’t have to work more than required to take advantage of your materials. They ought to be able to enjoy it as easily as possible and in the manner of their choice.

Ask the correct questions and keep the responses in mind.

Whom do you want to reach? What are their actions and objectives? Do any of them struggle with specific needs or disabilities? Why may your content be of interest to them? What sort of encounter do they expect from you? When working on a project, it’s easy to lose sight of your audience’s primary objectives. They should be included in any project specifications and posted on a whiteboard or sticky note that is easily seen.

Learn the fundamental rules for accessibility.

The Web Material Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will assist you in comprehending the little adjustments that need to be made to your content in order for it to be accessible to every audience member, from video subtitles and audio to error messages and colour usage.

Want inspiration? Use a free screen reader across your website. It was dreadful the first time a coworker and I attempted this for a computer e-commerce website. We wanted to sob in compassion for anyone trying to purchase a computer from our website who is blind. It inspired us to update our company’s accessibility policies. It should be noted that Microsoft Windows includes a screen reader comparable to VoiceOver, although Apple’s iOS and macOS do not.

Integrate accessibility into your workflow.

Establish with your partners (designers, videographers, authors, etc.) the need for all materials to be accessible. Ensure that pictures have alt-descriptions, which are text blocks inserted into the HTML code to describe the image for screen readers. Make sure the videographer’s work includes subtitles and transcripts. Make sure the wording is clear and readable. Keep in mind that color isn’t the sole technique used to transmit crucial information to colorblind viewers.

Make sure the developers are using accessible code by speaking with them. This includes features like speed, clickable phone numbers, and distinct labels for form components. Want to make your content more engaging in a surefire way? Your content should load more quickly. All audiences like witty websites and applications.

Make text easier to read.

The worst online writer I’ve ever worked with was a doctoral student in English at Stanford. Reading compound-complex sentences online is unpleasant. Slice them up. Your writing must be at least the sixth-grade reading level. Get rid of the advanced-level sentences. For assistance with sentence brevity and simple language usage, use Hemingway Editor (free). Other advice:

  • Make sure your font can support text scaling and is large enough.
  • For a consistent and simpler read, align the text to the left.
  • Use the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to check if text is viewable against the background color.
  • Look at your text. Don’t assume anything and hold out hope.

Create a video that is easy to use.

While some individuals adore videos, others are aware that they are an unnaturally linear type of material. ‚ÄúReally? Right? I must watch this. What is the time now? ” Give such individuals a different access point for the information. This is crucial in instructional and educational videos. Provide a transcript with timestamps so viewers can go to the sections of the film that are most pertinent to them ( is a great example). To assist individuals who need to watch with the sound muted as well as those who are visually and hearing impaired, add subtitles and audio descriptions (imagine people around sleeping babies, on public transportation, or in a multi-person home office without headphones).

Confirm it with your audience:

  • Want to view videos?
  • It has enough bandwidth to view videos.
  • understands how to use the video player effectively.
  • You can find the data in the movie in other places.
  • knows the language used in the video (or translate to their native language)

Be a pioneer in accessibility.

Organizations that provide public accommodation or get government support may be obliged to have accessible websites in the United States. According to recent court decisions, private company websites can be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Accessible websites will eventually become the norm. Being an accessibility pioneer right now helps you since it increases the number of people you can reach. Who wouldn’t want their material to be seen by more people?