Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day – an important date to remind ourselves of some basic facts.
There are many people around the world who are unable to enjoy the huge benefits of the web due to bad design and poor content. In the UK alone:
- 14% of the population is registered as disabled
- 9% have some form of colour blindness
- 4% have a sight problem
- 21% are aged 60 or over.
These are people who potentially cannot use your website. Moral issues aside, if you’re a business, that means fewer conversions. And it also means that you could be in breach of the UK Equality Act 2010.
But some websites are so badly designed or poorly written that they are inaccessible to a much larger proportion of the population.
You might as well put a picture of a funny cat on your home page for more effective results.
Opening doors with words
The basics of accessible website design is something we’ll leave to our technical colleagues. As copywriters, we’d like to talk about the ways in which we can ensure your web content is accessible to as many people as possible.
In essence it’s all about making things clear and simple and ensuring readers know what they’re reading and what they should do next. Practically speaking, here’s a few things you can do:
- Describe images or transcribe videos on your page, or give them subtitles
- Use plain language and avoid jargon
- Use headings and subheadings with short paragraphs in between
- Write out abbreviations in full before turning them into acronyms
- Write informative, unique page titles so people know what they’re about
- Give clear instructions wherever possible
- Make link text relevant. For example, don’t just write ‘click here’: say why people should click there.
Keep it simple
Above all, write simply to be accessible. Get rid of unnecessary words or phrases that don’t add anything to your message.
Take this piece of text for example: "If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone."
This could be better written as: "If you have any questions, please phone."
It’s a rhetorical question of course. The second version is shorter, clearer and more likely to result in an action. It’s accessible.
How did version one come about? One of the problems is that we often fall in love with our own words and are reluctant to cut them down. Quite often, someone with authority has written the words and they’re seen as final. Don’t make waves and use them if you want. Alternatively, recognise them as gobbledegook and do everyone a favour by suggesting something better.
For us at AmazeRealise, Global Accessibility Awareness Day isn’t just a one-off cause, or ‘the right thing to do’. It’s the only thing to do when you’re communicating on the web.
Keep it short. Keep it clear. Keep it simple. Keep it accessible.